Washington: Infants begin learning nearly from birth by looking at their surroundings and taking inventory of the things they see, a new study has found.
Psychologists at the University of Iowa contend that the activities should be viewed as intertwined, rather than considered separately, to fully appreciate how infants gain knowledge and how that knowledge is seared into memory.
The link between looking and learning is much more intricate than what people have assumed, said researcher John Spencer in a statement.
Researchers created a mathematical model that mimics, in real time and through months of child development, how infants use looking to understand their environment.
Such a model is important because it validates the importance of looking to learning and to forming memories. It also can be adapted by child development specialists to help special-needs children and infants born prematurely to combine looking and learning more effectively.
The model can look, like infants, at a world that includes dynamic, stimulating events that influence where it looks. We contend (the model) provides a critical link to studying how social partners influence how infants distribute their looks, learn, and develop, researchers said.
The model examines the looking-learning behaviour of infants as young as 6 weeks through one year of age, through 4,800 simulations at various points in development involving multiple stimuli and tasks.
As would be expected, most infants introduced to new objects tend to look at them to gather information about them, once they do, they are biased to look away from them in search of something new.
In other words, an infant will linger on something thats being shown to it for the first time as it learns about it, and that the total looking time will decrease as the infant becomes more familiar with it.
But the researchers found that infants who dont spend a sufficient amount of time studying a new object—in effect, failing to learn about it and to catalogue that knowledge into memory—dont catch on as well, which can affect their learning later on.>