On the computations underlying infants' representation of objects and number
A central focus of cognitive psychology is: What is the format of the mental representations that store information, and what computations can we perform over these representations? This research explores answers to these questions for the case of infants' representation of the concept “object.” In a series of studies using a choice method and a manual search method, an abrupt limit was found on the number of objects infants could track (Chapters 2 and 3). Infants successfully tracked and compared representations of 1, 2, and 3 objects. However, they failed with larger numerosities, even when the ratio between numerosities was highly discriminable. This pattern implicates object-files as the representations underlying infants' performance. Further experiments asked what computations infants can make over these object-file representations. Results suggest that between the ages of 7- to 14-months, infants can sum over properties (such as surface area) bound to object-file representations (Chapters 1 and 2), can compare the number of objects in one set with that in another (Chapter 3), and can bind representations of objects into mental sets, thereby increasing their capacity to remember individual objects (Chapter 4).
0633: Cognitive therapy