Seeing (Handbook Of Perception And Cognition)

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If no patterned light is received, for example when a baby has severe cataracts or blindness that is not surgically corrected until later in development, depth perception remains abnormal even after the surgery. Also contributing to the complex interplay of nature and nurture is the role of children in shaping their own cognitive development.

From the first days out of the womb, children actively choose to attend more to some things and less to others. When children are young, their parents largely determine their experiences: whether they will attend day care, the children with whom they will have play dates, the books to which they have access, and so on. In contrast, older children and adolescents choose their environments to a larger degree.

Thus, the issue is not whether cognitive development is a product of nature or nurture; rather, the issue is how nature and nurture work together to produce cognitive development. Some aspects of the development of living organisms, such as the growth of the width of a pine tree, involve quantitative changes , with the tree getting a little wider each year.

Other changes, such as the life cycle of a ladybug, involve qualitative changes , with the creature becoming a totally different type of entity after a transition than before Figure 1.

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The four stages that Piaget hypothesized were the sensorimotor stage birth to 2 years , the preoperational reasoning stage 2 to 6 or 7 years , the concrete operational reasoning stage 6 or 7 to 11 or 12 years , and the formal operational reasoning stage 11 or 12 years and throughout the rest of life. Their mental representations are very limited. If an infant younger than 9 months of age is playing with a favorite toy, and another person removes the toy from view, for example by putting it under an opaque cover and not letting the infant immediately reach for it, the infant is very likely to make no effort to retrieve it and to show no emotional distress Piaget, Instead, Piaget claimed that infants less than 9 months do not understand that objects continue to exist even when out of sight.

During the preoperational stage, according to Piaget, children can solve not only this simple problem which they actually can solve after 9 months but show a wide variety of other symbolic-representation capabilities, such as those involved in drawing and using language.


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However, such 2- to 7-year-olds tend to focus on a single dimension, even when solving problems would require them to consider multiple dimensions. For example, if a glass of water is poured into a taller, thinner glass, children below age 7 generally say that there now is more water than before.


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Similarly, if a clay ball is reshaped into a long, thin sausage, they claim that there is now more clay, and if a row of coins is spread out, they claim that there are now more coins. In all cases, the children are focusing on one dimension, while ignoring the changes in other dimensions for example, the greater width of the glass and the clay ball. Children overcome this tendency to focus on a single dimension during the concrete operations stage , and think logically in most situations. However, according to Piaget, they still cannot think in systematic scientific ways, even when such thinking would be useful.

Thus, if asked to find out which variables influence the period that a pendulum takes to complete its arc, and given weights that they can attach to strings in order to do experiments with the pendulum to find out, most children younger than age 12, perform biased experiments from which no conclusion can be drawn, and then conclude that whatever they originally believed is correct. Finally, in the formal operations period, children attain the reasoning power of mature adults, which allows them to solve the pendulum problem and a wide range of other problems. However, this formal operations stage tends not to occur without exposure to formal education in scientific reasoning, and appears to be largely or completely absent from some societies that do not provide this type of education.

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Many more recent researchers have obtained findings indicating that cognitive development is considerably more continuous than Piaget claimed. For example, Diamond found that on the object permanence task described above, infants show earlier knowledge if the waiting period is shorter. At age 6 months, they retrieve the hidden object if the wait is no longer than 2 seconds; at 7 months, they retrieve it if the wait is no longer than 4 seconds; and so on. Even earlier, at 3 or 4 months, infants show surprise in the form of longer looking times if objects suddenly appear to vanish with no obvious cause Baillargeon, So, is cognitive development fundamentally continuous or fundamentally discontinuous?

Thus, the debate between those who emphasize discontinuous, stage-like changes in cognitive development and those who emphasize gradual continuous changes remains a lively one. Understanding how children think and learn has proven useful for improving education. One example comes from the area of reading.

Cognitive developmental research has shown that phonemic awareness —that is, awareness of the component sounds within words—is a crucial skill in learning to read.

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To measure awareness of the component sounds within words, researchers ask children to decide whether two words rhyme, to decide whether the words start with the same sound, to identify the component sounds within words, and to indicate what would be left if a given sound were removed from a word. Moreover, teaching these skills to randomly chosen 4- and 5-year-olds results in their being better readers years later National Reading Panel, Another educational application of cognitive developmental research involves the area of mathematics.

Even before they enter kindergarten, the mathematical knowledge of children from low-income backgrounds lags far behind that of children from more affluent backgrounds.


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Ramani and Siegler hypothesized that this difference is due to the children in middle- and upper-income families engaging more frequently in numerical activities, for example playing numerical board games such as Chutes and Ladders. Chutes and Ladders is a game with a number in each square; children start at the number one and spin a spinner or throw a dice to determine how far to move their token.

A much-cited article by Itti and Koch illustrates the idea for static images. Specialised neural network algorithms detect features such as colour, intensity, orientations, etc. Each feature is represented in a feature map, in which neurons compete for saliency. Feature maps are combined into a saliency map.

A last network sequentially scans the saliency map, moving from the most salient location to the next less salient one and so on. Footnote 36 An excellent explanation of how to obtain saliency maps is given at a Matlab page. Psychologists of film in their attempts to explain the extraordinary smooth and intense perceptual experience that mainstream film typically provides, currently seek to join forces with computer vision scientists.

In a next step, they may seek collaboration with vision labs in the world that attempt to link their low-level film image feature analyses with film narrative structures and viewer responses. Examples of computational film analyses.

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Number of shot transitions as a function of acts. Cutting , Fig. Note that ordinates are inverted; lower positions of titles mean larger number of shots and decreased shot durations. Normalised time bins refer to units of duration standardised in view of variable film length of separate titles. Left panel displays distribution of cuts over time and acts, right panel of non-cut transitions such as dissolves, fades and wipes. The work of perception researcher James Cutting has carried the psychology of the film into the next stage of the Gibsonian ecological approach, while also linking it with insights in the structure of film narrative from humanities scholarship.

Footnote 39 In an interesting essay on the perception of scenes in the real world and in film Cutting summarised the ecological perspective on perception stating that understanding how we perceive the real world helps to grasp how we perceive film and vice versa. Footnote 40 In the last decade Cutting developed powerful computational content analysis methods that reveal the patterning of low-level features in relation to dimensions of film style and technology, in representative samples of Hollywood films of well over a hundred titles.

The theoretical starting point of the approach is that movies exhibit reality. The psychologist Cutting subscribes to the analytical distinctions made in literary and film theories between plot, form and style of a narrative on the one hand, and the represented story-world on the other. The Gibsonian proposal is that analyses of the fabula or story-world i. Low-level features analysed by Cutting and co-workers are physically and quantitatively determinable elements or aspects occurring in moving images, regardless of the narrative.

They include shot duration, temporal shot structure, colour, contrast and movement. The value of each feature can be expressed as an index for an entire film, or for some segment targeted in an analysis. Footnote 41 Inspection by an analyst complements machine vision analyses, but I would qualify the indexing approach as computational objective film analysis , because of intensive tallying and numerical operations developed by specialists in psychological data-processing.

The features do not constitute events or scenes, but they accentuate these. A recording of their measurements for an entire film would constitute an abstract backbone to be filled with scenes and events. One possible comparison is with the rhythmic score of a song without melodies and words.

In the hands of capable film-makers they are indispensable for conveying the narrative, due to their direct, predictable and automated effects on the visual system. The primary use of the approach is in film analysis. The multi-feature configurations of indices can be used to reliably 'fingerprint' films or sections. Reliably because the indices are derived from large numbers of measurements.

Computational film analysis uses a historical corpus of films and has been deployed over the past decade to corroborate and enrich historical analyses of film style. The corpus consisted of English language films released between and , ten for each year. As Figure 3 illustrates a typical course obtained of the number of shot transitions over film presentation time, interpretable as to mark the acts and the pace of narration, see Figure 3. An important outcome of the analyses is that clear physical support was obtained for the four-act structure proposed by film historian Thompson across the entire period.

Footnote 43 Shot scale was unrelated to the act structure. Cutting added analyses of higher order level film features that can be interpreted to co-vary with narration. Footnote 44 Cutting then ventured upon a multi-feature analysis of the entire corpus. Associations among all indices across all titles could be reduced to four dimensions: motion, framing, editing and sound. They correlated in a meaningful way. For example, shot scale was inversely related to shot duration; in classical narration close-ups tend towards briefer durations than wide shots.

Each dimension represented polar opposites between features, e. Computational content analysis can explore the dynamics of the dimensional representations over subsequent acts of movies.