Object-centred spatial reference in 4-month-old infants

Bremner, Andrew J.; Bryant, P. E. and Mareschal, Denis. 2006. Object-centred spatial reference in 4-month-old infants. Infant Behavior and Development, 29(1), pp. 1-10. [Article]


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Abstract or Description

An appreciation of object-centred spatial relations involves representing a 'within-object' spatial relation across changes in the object orientation. This representational ability is important in adult object recognition [Biederman, I. (1987). Recognition-by-components: A theory of human image understanding. Psychological Review, 94, 115-147; Marr, D., and Nishihara, H. K. (1978) Representation and recognition of the spatial organisation of three-dimensional structure. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B (Biological Sciences), 200, 269-294; Tarr, M.J., and Pinker, S. (1990) When does human object recognition use a viewer-centred reference frame? Psychological Science, 1, 253-256] and is also thought to be a fundamental component of the mature object concept [Piaget, J. (1954). The Construction of Reality in the Child. Routledge and Kegan-Paul: London, UK. (originally published in French in 1937)]. An experiment is reported in which eighteen 4-month-old infants were familiarised to a specific spatial relation within an object, across six different orientations of the object. On subsequent test trials the object was presented to the infants in an entirely novel orientation. Between successive test trials the within-object spatial relation was alternated between novel and familiar. The infants demonstrated significant sensitivity of their looking to both the novelty of the stimuli and the order in which novel and familiar stimuli were presented. It is concluded that by 4 months of age infants are able to form object-centred spatial frames of reference. These findings are discussed in the light of our current understanding of the development of object representation during infancy.

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object concept, spatial representation, infancy, cognitive development, object recognition

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > InfantLab



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Date Deposited:

05 Aug 2008 15:53

Last Modified:

25 Sep 2023 10:08

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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