Document Detail

The nature of goal-directed action representations in infancy.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23205418     Owner:  NLM     Status:  In-Process    
A critical question for developmental psychologists concerns how representations in infancy are best characterized. Past and current research provides paradoxical evidence regarding the nature of early representations: in some ways, infants appear to build concrete and specific representations that guide their online perception and understanding of different events; in other ways, infants appear to possess abstract representations that support inferences regarding unseen event outcomes. Characterizing the nature of early representations across domains is a central charge for developmentalists because this task can provide important information regarding the underlying learning process or processes that drive development. Yet, little existing work has attempted to resolve this paradox by characterizing the ways in which infants' representations may have both abstract and concrete elements. The goal of this chapter is to take a close look at infants' early representations of goal-directed action in order to describe the nature of these representations. We first discuss the nature of representations of action that infants build through acting on the world and argue that these representations possess both concrete and abstract elements. On the one hand, infants appear to build representations of action that stress goal-relevant features of actions in an action- or event-specific fashion, suggesting specificity or concreteness. On the other hand, these representations are sufficiently abstract to not only drive action but also support infants' perception of others actions and to support inferences regarding unseen action outcomes. We next discuss evidence to suggest that by the end of the first year of life, infants possess increasingly abstract representations of the actions of others and use contextual cues, including linguistic statements accompanying action, to flexibly specify the level of representational specificity. We further consider the possibility that language may play a role in infants' ability to build more abstract representations of goal-directed action.
Jessica A Sommerville; Michaela B Upshaw; Jeff Loucks
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Advances in child development and behavior     Volume:  43     ISSN:  0065-2407     ISO Abbreviation:  Adv Child Dev Behav     Publication Date:  2012  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-12-04     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0370417     Medline TA:  Adv Child Dev Behav     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  351-87     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Psychology & Center for Child and Family Well-being, University of Washington, Campus Box 351525, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.
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