Developmental Trajectories of Picture-Based Object Representations during the First Year of Life

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Experience with an object’s photograph changes 9-month-olds’ preference for the referent object, confirming they can represent objects from pictures. However, picture-based representations appear weaker than object-based representations. The current study’s first objective was to investigate age differences in object recognition memory after familiarization with objects’ pictures. The second objective was to test whether age differences in object permanence sensitivity with picture-based representations match those found with object-based representations, whereby 7-month-olds search more for familiar hidden objects but 11-month-olds search more for novel ones. Six- and 11-month-olds were familiarized with an object’s photo and tested on their representation of the real object by comparing their reaching for it versus a novel object. Objects were visible under conditions testing recognition memory and hidden under conditions testing object permanence. Like 9-month-olds, 6- and 11-month-olds preferred novelty with visible objects, showing early object recognition after picture familiarization, as well as developmental continuity. Unlike 9-month-olds, who switched to preferring familiarity with hidden objects, 6- and 11-month-olds switched to null preference. This pattern fails to match 7- and 11-month-olds’ hidden-object preferences after familiarization with real objects, revealing discontinuity in sensitivity to object permanence after picture familiarization, and suggesting that picture-based representations are weaker than object-based ones.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date6 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jan 2024

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