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Friday, May 14, 2004


Toddlers' Mission Impossible

::Many of us must recall seeing toddlers trying to sit on dollhouse chairs or trying to get into small toy cars and end up laughing at the poor dears. Many of us would also wonder why these toddlers are attempting their 'mission impossible' .
Researchers from the University of Virginia, Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign set out to understand why toddlers, who actually know better, do these things. They carried a study of 18- to 30-month-old children and found these kinds of errors --scale errors -- to be common in this age group. Videotapes show many participants in the research seriously trying to slide down miniature slides, squeeze into tiny toy cars and sit in dollhouse chairs.
Small children are able to discriminate size of objects, so why do they then act inappropriately and not like adults or older children. The answer lies in there being two brain systems involved in the utilisation of visual information. Judy DeLoache, Kenan Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia, and lead author of the study explains ::
The provocative part of the answer to that question fits with theories that implicate two neurally and functionally distinct brain systems underlying the use of visual information. One brain area is involved in the visual recognition and categorization of objects ("That's a chair.") and with planning what to do with them ("I'm going to sit down."). A different area is involved in the perception of object size and in the use of visual information to control actions on objects.
The children's dramatic failures to use size when interacting with familiar objects may reflect immaturity in the interaction of these two brain systems.
"In scale errors, the usual seamless integration between the two systems in the brain momentarily breaks down, and the size of an object is not incorporated into a child's decision to act on it."

For further details of the study carried out go here.
For video clips of the children in the study in their actions, go here and you may have some laughs.


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