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Mental Representations in Infants and Young Children

English title Mental Representations in Infants and Young Children
Applicant Frick Andrea
Number 150486
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Département de Psychologie Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.08.2014 - 30.06.2019
Approved amount 1'622'469.00
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Keywords (7)

Mental Imagery; Preschool; Children; Spatial Cognition; Cognitive Development; Object Representation; Infants

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Eine der erstaunlichsten menschlichen Fähigkeiten ist es, über Objekte nachzudenken, die nicht gegenwärtig oder wahrnehmbar sind. Wir können uns Objekte vorstellen und diese Vorstellungsbilder beliebig verändern, indem wir sie beispielsweise vor unserem inneren Auge drehen, verbiegen oder zusammenfalten. Solche flexiblen mentalen Repräsentationen sind wichtig, um Voraussagen darüber machen zu können, wo sich Objekte in der Zukunft befinden. Solche Vorhersagen sind immens wichtig, um zum Beispiel Kollisionen zu vermeiden. Sie erlauben es uns aber auch Effekte von Handlungen vorherzusagen, wenn wir Objekte manipulieren oder Werkzeuge gebrauchen. Zudem hängt diese Fähigkeit mit mathematischer Kompetenz zusammen. Trotz der hohen Relevanz im Alltag und für die kognitive Forschung ist unser Wissen über die Entwicklung dieser Fähigkeiten jedoch vergleichsweise gering.
Lay summary

Entwicklungspsychologische Studien haben gezeigt, dass Säuglinge erstaunlich frühe kognitive Kompetenzen besitzen, während ältere Kinder mit ähnlichen Aufgaben, die vermeintlich dieselben Fähigkeiten messen, oft Mühe haben. Diese paradoxen Befunde werfen die Frage auf, ob in den verschiedenen Altersgruppen dieselben Kompetenzen gemessen werden oder ob mit Säuglingsstudien eine andere Art von Wissen erfasst wird.

Ziel dieses Projekts ist es, den Ursprung und den Entwicklungsverlauf einer solch frühen Kompetenz systematisch zu erforschen, nämlich der Fähigkeit, Objekte in der Vorstellung zu drehen. Aufbauend auf früheren Studien zur „mentalen Rotation“ soll bei Säuglingen und Kindern im Alter von 4 Monaten bis zu 5 Jahren untersucht werden, welche Faktoren für diese Fähigkeit wichtig sind. Dieses Projekt soll damit unser Wissen darüber vertiefen, wie Säuglinge und Kinder über Dinge nachdenken, welche aktuell nicht sichtbar sind, und ob sie solche mentalen Repräsentationen flexibel verändern können. Die Ergebnisse werden unser Verständnis darüber fördern, wie Objekte intern repräsentiert werden und trotz unterschiedlichen Ansichten und Orientierungen wiedererkannt werden. Ferner soll untersucht werden, wie diese Fähigkeit mit der Kapazität des visuell-räumlichen Arbeitsgedächtnisses zusammenhängt.

Die geplanten Studien sind relevant für die psychologische Theoriebildung und von zentraler Bedeutung für die Erforschung kognitiver Entwicklung. Die Ergebnisse sind aber auch von methodologischem Interesse und haben potentielle praktische Implikationen, denn die untersuchte kognitive Fähigkeit ist sowohl für die Bewältigung alltäglicher Aufgaben als auch für die akademische und berufliche Laufbahn von hoher Relevanz.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 18.06.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Spatial-numerical associations in 1st-graders: Evidence from a manual-pointing task
Möhring Wenke, Ishihara Masami, Curiger Jacqueline, Frick Andrea (2019), Spatial-numerical associations in 1st-graders: Evidence from a manual-pointing task, in Psychological Research, 83, 885-893.
Spatial transformation abilities and their relation to later mathematics performance
Frick Andrea (2018), Spatial transformation abilities and their relation to later mathematics performance, in Psychological Research, 1-20.
How big is many? Development of spatial and numerical magnitude understanding
Newcombe Nora S., Möhring Wenke, Frick Andrea (2018), How big is many? Development of spatial and numerical magnitude understanding, in Henkik A., Fias W. (ed.), Elsevier, San Diego, 157-176.
Spatial scaling, proportional thinking, and numerical understanding in 5- to 7-year-old children
Möhring Wenke, Frick Andrea, Newcombe Nora S. (2018), Spatial scaling, proportional thinking, and numerical understanding in 5- to 7-year-old children, in Cognitive Development, 45, 57-67.
Using mental transformation strategies for spatial scaling: Evidence from a discrimination task.
Möhring Wenke, Newcombe Nora S., Frick Andrea (2016), Using mental transformation strategies for spatial scaling: Evidence from a discrimination task., in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42, 1473-1479.
Young children's perception of diagrammatic representations
Frick Andrea, Newcombe Nora S. (2015), Young children's perception of diagrammatic representations, in Spatial Cognition & Computation, 15(4), 227-245.
Spatial proportional reasoning is associated with formal knowledge about fractions
Möhring Wenke, Newcombe Nora S., Levine Susan C., Frick Andrea (2015), Spatial proportional reasoning is associated with formal knowledge about fractions, in Journal of Cognition and Development, 17, 67-84.
The relation between spatial thinking and proportional reasoning in preschoolers
Möhring Wenke, Newcombe Nora S., Frick Andrea (2015), The relation between spatial thinking and proportional reasoning in preschoolers, in Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 132, 213-220.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Veit Kubik / HU Berlin Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Mitsuru Noda / Edogawa University Japan (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Masami Ishihara / Metropolitan Univesity, Tokyo Japan (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Timo Mäntylä / University of Stockholm Sweden (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. Jennifer Lehman / University of Regensburg Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Mirjam Ebersbach / Universität Kassel Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Corinne Jola / Abertay University Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Susan Levine / University of Chicago United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Valerie Camos / University of Fribourg Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Gudrun Schwarzer / Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Wenke Möhring / Universität Basel Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Nora Newcombe / Temple University United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
International Conference on Spatial Cognition Talk given at a conference The role of stereo vision and 3D presentation on infants' mental object rotation. 10.09.2018 Rom, Italy Frick Andrea; Röthlisberger Martina;
Spatial Cognition Conference Poster Mental rotation below age 4: Evidence from a new mirror-image discrimination task. 05.09.2018 Tübingen, Germany Frick Andrea; Pedrett Salome;
60th Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TeaP) Poster Infants' mental rotation and recognition of 3D objects – the relevance of stereovision. 11.03.2018 Marburg, Germany Frick Andrea; Röthlisberger Martina;
iscience research colloquium Individual talk Development of spatial and numerical skills. 22.11.2017 Konstanz, Germany Frick Andrea;
Biennial Meeting of the Cognitive Development Society Poster Emerging stereopsis and its relation to infants’ 3D object recognition and mental rotation. 12.10.2017 Portland, OR, United States of America Frick Andrea; Röthlisberger Martina;
Collegium Generale, Münchenwiler Seminar. Imagination: Erkenntnisfortschritt in den Wissenschaften. Talk given at a conference Entwicklung von räumlichen Vorstellungen und mathematischem Denken 31.03.2017 Münchenwiler, Switzerland Frick Andrea;
Kolloquium, Department of Psychology, Stockholm University Individual talk Development of spatial and numerical skills 21.09.2016 Stockholm, Sweden Frick Andrea;
Spatial Cognition Conference Talk given at a conference Interaction between space and number representations in 1st-graders 02.08.2016 Philadelphia, United States of America Frick Andrea;
Tagung experimentell arbeitender Psychologen (TeaP) Talk given at a conference Spatial abilities are related to an understanding of proportions and formal fractions 21.03.2016 Heidelberg, Germany Frick Andrea;
Space and Mathematics: What’s the connection? Conference of the Spatial Intelligence Learning Center (SILC) Talk given at a conference Spatial transformation abilities predict later math and geometry: A longitudinal study. 17.11.2015 University of Chicago,
 Chicago, United States of America Frick Andrea;
Space and Mathematics: What’s the connection? Conference of the Spatial Intelligence Learning Center (SILC) Talk given at a conference The relation between spatial scaling abilities, proportional reasoning, and formal fraction knowledge. 17.11.2015 University of Chicago,
 Chicago, United States of America Frick Andrea;
14th SSP/SGP Conference Talk given at a conference Spatial abilities are related to formal fraction knowledge: The role of geometric and proportional understanding 08.09.2015 Genf, Switzerland Frick Andrea;
14th European Congress of Psychology Talk given at a conference Early effects of motor experience on infant’s mental rotation 07.07.2015 Milano, Italy Frick Andrea;
LEAD Lecture Series Individual talk What do infants know – and how do we know it? 11.05.2015 Tübingen, Germany Frick Andrea;
Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Poster Space and mathematics: Spatial scaling is related to understanding of relational quantities and whole numbers 19.03.2015 Philadelphia, PA, United States of America Frick Andrea;
Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Talk given at a conference Spatial abilities predict later mathematics achievement: A longitudinal study 19.03.2015 Philadelphia, PA, United States of America Frick Andrea;
Nijmegen Lectures of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and the Radboud University Talk given at a conference The Origin of Abstract Thought: Geometry - Discussion 15.02.2015 Nijmegen, Netherlands Frick Andrea;
International Symposium on Multisensory Perception Talk given at a conference Einfluss motorischer Aktivität auf räumliche Kognition 26.09.2014 Regensburg, Germany Frick Andrea;
49. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychologie (DGPs) Talk given at a conference Mentale Rotation bei 4,5- und 6-Jährigen: Ein Vergleich von prospektiven und retrospektiven Aufgaben und die Rolle des visuell-räumlichen Arbeitsgedächtnisses 22.09.2014 Bochum, Germany Frick Andrea;
Spatial Cognition Conference Poster A matter of proportions: Spatial scaling is related to proportional reasoning in 4- and 5-year-olds 15.09.2014 Bremen, Germany Frick Andrea;
Spatial Cognition Conference Poster Mental rotation and working memory capacity in 7-year-old children 15.09.2014 Bremen, Germany Frick Andrea;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Salzburg Global Seminar Workshop 12.12.2015 Salzburg, Austria Frick Andrea;


Awards

Title Year
Poster Award (1. Prize) for a supervised master project at the Bachelor and Master conference, University of Fribourg, Dept. of Psychology, June, 2018. 2018
Poster Award (1. Prize) for a supervised bachelor project at the Bachelor and Master conference, University of Fribourg, Dept. of Psychology, June, 2016. 2016

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
187197 Development of multitasking and spatial abilities 01.07.2019 SNSF Professorships

Abstract

Developmental studies of a number of cognitive abilities have shown that infants appear to have astonishing early competencies, whereas much older children seem unable to succeed at tasks requiring the same competencies. These paradoxical results raise the question of whether the same abilities are measured in studies of different age groups, or of whether the infant results index a different kind of knowledge than assessed in tasks used with older children. The proposed project aims to systematically investigate early origins and developmental change in one of these fundamental cognitive abilities: the ability to represent and mentally transform objects. Building on my previous research on infants’ and young children’s ability to mentally transform (e.g. mentally rotate) objects, I plan to investigate the development of this ability in an age range from 4 months to 5 years. I will examine which task factors are crucial for infants’ and young children’s mental rotation performance, and how these competencies are related to the development of thier memory capacity. This research will increase our understanding of how infants and young children think about objects that are not currently seen or sensed, and whether they are able to flexibly transform such mental representations. Furthermore, I will investigate how objects are recognized despite differences in viewing orientation, thus shedding light on the characteristics of object representations early in life. The planned studies will be highly relevant for theory development, yield methodological insights with general implications for cognitive development research, and have important practical implications. This project will provide unique learning opportunities for master and Ph.D. students and strengthen infant research in Switzerland.
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