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Physics for infants: characterizing the origins of knowledge about objects, substances, and number

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Abstract

Adults possess a great deal of knowledge about how objects behave and interact in our every day environment, yet several puzzles remain unsolved regarding how we manage this ubiquitous skill. The notion of intuitive physics has been a central focus of research on cognitive development in infancy. This article focuses on the origins of knowledge about objects, substances, and number concepts in infancy. The article reviews common themes of solidity, continuity, cohesion, and property changes as they have been studied with regard to infants' knowledge about objects and more recently with regard to infants' knowledge about substances. In addition, we review how object and substance knowledge interfaces with number knowledge systems. The evidence supports the view that certain core principles about these domains are present as early as we can test for them and the nature of the underlying representation is best characterized as primitive initial concepts that are elaborated and refined through learning and experience. WIREs Cogn Sci 2012, 3:19–27. doi: 10.1002/wcs.157

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