A new finding says that infants begin learning nearly from birth by taking inventory of the things they see.
Psychologists from the University of Iowa contend that infants create knowledge by looking at and learning about their surroundings. The activities should be viewed as intertwined, to fully appreciate how infants gain knowledge and integrate that with memory.
"The link between looking and learning is much more intricate than what people have assumed," John Spencer, psychology professor at Iowa and study co-author, was quoted in the journal Cognitive Science.
The researchers created a math model that mimics, in real time and through months of child development, how infants use looking to understand their environment, according to a university statement.
"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," the authors wrote.
The model examines the looking-learning behaviour of infants as young as six 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 that's 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.
"The link between looking and learning is much more intricate than what people have assumed," added Spencer.