Dr Jeanne Shinskey
Title: Learning from Pictures in Infancy
Abstract: Pictures are a virtually universal symbolic medium for communicating about real-world things in their absence. Yet, children’s understanding of this powerful function takes years to develop (DeLoache, 2004). Despite trends for marketing modern media such as apps for babies as young as 3 months, little is known about what infants learn from symbolic media, even in its more traditional forms such as picture books. This talk addresses the extent to which infants can learn indirectly about real-world referents from pictures. It begins with 6-month-olds’ recognition memory for toys they previously saw in photographs and progresses to 2-year-olds’ generalisation of newly-learned words for unfamiliar foods from a lift-the-flap picture book to real-world referents. Features that help or hinder infants’ picture-mediated learning are discussed in terms of the development of not only symbolic thought but also cognitive control, and future directions are proposed.