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Dissertation zugänglich unter
Communication-induced and Spontaneous Object Representations in Infancy
Kommunikationsinduzierte und spontane Objektrepräsentation im Säuglingsalter
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Entwicklungspsychologie , Pupillometrie , Elektroencephalographie , Kognitive Entwicklung , Soziale Wahrnehmung
Freie Schlagwörter (Deutsch):
Kognitive Entwicklung , Soziale Entwicklung , EEG , Pupillometrie , Objektpermanenz
Freie Schlagwörter (Englisch):
cognitive development , social development, EEG , pupillometry , objekt permanence
Liszkowski, Ulf (Prof. Dr.)
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung:
Kurzfassung auf Englisch:
At the end of their first year, infants start to engage in meaningful, if nonverbal communication with their caregivers. At the same time, they appear to show sophisticated understanding of physical objects and their continued existence during occlusion. Many studies have brought forward evidence of this early conceptual understanding of referentiality and object permanence, but have remained vulnerable to the critique of supporters of leaner, non-mentalistic explanations of infant behavior. The goal of this thesis was to investigate how infants at the end of their first year process the referential content of socialcommunicative cues, and represent objects during occlusion, using (neuro-)physiological measures that are more resistant to low-level erceptual accounts than traditional behavioral measures.
Therefore, two different methodological approaches were taken: On the one hand, pupillometry was used to measure cognitive load during the presentation of socially meaningful scenes and surprising occlusion-related events. On the other hand, EEG was used to find neuro-correlates of object representation in response to social and nonsocial cues. In particular, increase in gamma band activity was interpreted as a marker for object maintenance.
Three studies explored infants’ comprehension of social-communicative cues and object representation. In the first two studies, pupil dilation was measured to investigate expectation elicited by pointing (Study 1) and expectation elicited by an occlusion event (Study 2) in violation-of-expectation paradigms. In Study 1 (Chapter 2), I found that infants expected an object to appear after they had seen an agent point towards the occluder at 12 months, but not at 8 months, and not after a non-social control cue. In Study 2 (Chapter 3), I found that 18-month-olds, but not 10-month-olds, expected an object in a nonsocial occlusion experiment. In Study 3 (Chapter 4), I measured activity in the EEG gamma band to investigate pointing comprehension and spontaneous object expectation in two experiments. Infants saw an occlusion event followed by a cue which was either social-communicative or nonsocial (Experiment 1) or social-communicative or social-noncommunicative (Experiment 2). In the first experiment, I was able to establish the previously reported object maintenance effect and a new response pertaining to the communicative cue in 12-month-olds. In the second experiment, I found the object maintenance effect only in the social-communicative, but not in the social-noncommunicative control condition, in 10-month-olds.
The findings of Study 1 support the hypothesis that infants understand the referential content of communicative cues, like declarative pointing, around their first birthday. The divergence of the results between Study 1 and Study 2 led me to suspect that object representation may not be independent from social cues. The findings of Study 3 further emphasize the idea that cognitive processing of object occlusion events may be influenced by the communicative context in which they occur.