A new study by researchers from the University of London, the University of South Caroline, and Royal Holloway is indicating that babies as young as nine months of age can actually recognize real-life objects seen in photos shown to them. This shows that a baby might well be able to learn about a toy or something similar before he or she even celebrates its first birthday.
Researchers say that the finding of the study suggest that even before a baby can walk or talk, he or she can be educated about the world around it. This may come in as a useful tool for parents and educators. The new research show that babies are quite capable of learning new things about the real world simply by looking at illustration in picture books (as long as they are somewhat realistic), or by looking at photographs that display simple images.
The study tested 30 8-month-old and 9-month-old babies by familiarizing them for about one whole minute with a life-sized photo or toy. The babies were then subsequently placed in front of the toy they had just seen in the picture, along with a new and different toy, to see which one they wanted to reach for first.
Researchers also tested the infants’ object recognition by placing the two different types of toys in both transparent and opaque containers. Before this, they hid the toys from the infants’ view for a little while, then placed them both in opaque containers after. The researchers observed that the infants looked for their familiar toy when the toys were placed in the opaque containers. However, when both toys were placed in plain-sight inside clear containers, researchers observed that the infants first reached for the toy that they did not recognize. They speculated that this was perhaps because the novelty of the first toy that they had observed and recognized had finally begun to wear off.
Researchers maintain that this study shows that toys and learning through observation at this early age can affect an infant’s actions when it comes to how he or she reacts to seeing different objects. Babies as young as nine months, they said, can already recognize objects from photos, and that is one thing. Further, and perhaps more important, however, they can recognize when those objects disappear, and remember that they are gone, which is a classic case of out of sight, but not out of mind. Some infants can even recall where the objects disappeared to (the opaque container instance is a good example) for a short period of time.
Experience with a picture when an infant is young, say the researchers, can strengthen their idea of the object in the picture so that they can maintain the object after the picture is gone. The findings from the study conducted by researchers from Royal Holloway, the University of London, the University of South Carolina on how babies as young as nine months can recognize objects from photos were published recently online in the journal for Child Development.
By Laura Clark