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How to compare apples and oranges: The problem of visual salience in infancy research

Dr. Zsuzsa Kaldy

Tuesday, October 30, 2007, 01:00pm - 02:00pm

UMass-Boston, Department of Psychology

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Research in the past two decades has shown that infants' knowledge about their physical world is surprisingly rich. In the first part of the talk, I will discuss some of our own studies in this field, with a focus on the kinds of featural information infants can use to identify objects from memory. This line of research led us to raise the simple, yet largely neglected, "problem of salience": when comparing perceptual dimensions, changes need to be equally salient to allow meaningful comparisons. This problem, in a broader form, affects much of the research on infant cognitive development. In the second part of the talk, I will discuss a novel paradigm that makes it possible to control this critical factor across dimensions and demonstrate the application of this method with a few different examples. We used this method to calibrate changes along various dimensions (color, luminance, shape and �face-ness�). Having the "problem of salience" out of the way, we examined the developmental sequence of features that infants rely on in identifying objects from memory.

Dr. Zsuzsa Kaldy