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Why Take the Cog Out of Infant Richard N. Aslin

Summary: Why Take the Cog Out of Infant
Richard N. Aslin
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
University of Rochester
A number of recent commentaries on studies of infant cognition (e.g., Haith,
1998; Haith & Benson, 1998; Munakata, McClelland, Johnson & Siegler, 1997;
Smith, 1999) criticized several reports by investigators (e.g., Baillargeon, 1999;
Spelke, 1998; Wynn, 1998) who offered a so-called "rich interpretation" of find-
ings gathered from young infants. The fundamental danger associated with such
rich interpretations is that some simpler lower level mechanism may be discov-
ered that can account for these same findings. This commentary is directed to
three articles that appear in this issue of Infancy (Bogartz, Shinskey, & Schil-
ling; Cashon & Cohen; Schilling). All three articles present empirical evidence
from 4-, 5-, and 8-month-old infants that the authors contend is more consis-
tent with a perceptually based interpretation than with the rich interpretation of-
fered by two classic studies of object permanence in young infants (Baillargeon,
1987a; Baillargeon, Spelke, & Wasserman, 1985). I argue that the alternative
explanation offered by these three sets of authors is inconsistent with both the
original studies and with their own data.


Source: Aslin, Richard N. - Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester


Collections: Biology and Medicine