Then, the locations of the toys were switched. Infants who were familiarized with the experimenter’s preference in the same room were surprised when the experimenter reached to the old location with the new object. In contrast, infants who received the goal preview in the other room did not show surprise when the experimenter reached for a new object in the testing room. A recent study has provided evidence for a strong effect of contextual change on 12-month-olds’ ability to comprehend a reference to an absent object (Osina, Saylor, & Ganea, 2013). In this study, infants played with a toy and
saw it being hidden in an ottoman (that they could see and approach easily). After a short delay, the experimenter talked to infants about the absent check details MK 2206 thing. Infants who had first been introduced to the toy in the experimental room responded to hearing a reference to the hidden toy by searching for the toy at its location. In contrast, infants who had been introduced to the toy outside of the experimental room (either at home or in an adjacent room)
did not indicate they understood the experimenter’s references by searching for the toy at its new location. In the latter case, infants did not have a continuous exposure to the object because they did not witness the object being transferred from one room to the other. Rather, the object was introduced in the reception room and then reintroduced in the experimental room where SB-3CT it was hidden and later referred to in its absence.
One reason why changes in an object’s location interfere with infants’ learning or responses may have to do with the fact that when objects are introduced in one context and then reintroduced in another context, young infants cannot establish the identity of the object. Such difficulty may affect infants’ attentiveness during the study and disrupt their performance on subsequent tasks. To test this possibility, we adapted the paradigm used by Osina et al. (2013) to ask whether providing children with cues about the identity of the object would enable them to more easily recognize the test object when it reappeared in the experimental room. In one condition, infants were introduced to an object and its characteristic feature in the reception room and were reminded about the same, characteristic feature in the experimental room. The identifying feature provided infants with unambiguous evidence that the familiar object was the same one seen in the reception room. If infants’ difficulty locating the referent in Osina et al. (2013) was the result of their confusion about the object identity, highlighting the identifying feature in both locations should make it easier for infants to locate the referent when they hear it mentioned again.