Parsing motion for meaning: Infants' individuation of actions from continuous motion
AuthorSharon, Tanya Lee
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractAlmost nothing is known regarding infants' abilities for parsing the ongoing activity in their surroundings into distinct and meaningful parts. However, the individuation of actions is a fundamental ability, as explicated in a four-part introduction. Based on a review of general principles of individuation across multiple ontological domains, three possible mechanisms for action individuation in infants are identified and tested. The results of a series of studies show some important limitations in infants' abilities to parse actions from continuous motion. Although infants can perceptually discriminate different types of actions (such as jumps and falls) performed by a puppet, and can individuate and enumerate sequences of such actions when the acts are separated by brief motionless pauses, their ability to individuate actions embedded within a continuous strewn of motion is limited: Neither repeating cycles in the action sequences nor marked differences in extent of motion are sufficient cues. The results instead suggest that tangent discontinuities in the path of motion are an important cue to infants' ability to parse actions from on-going motion. Implications for infants' conceptual structure for actions, and additional potential mechanisms of action individuation, are also discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College