Developing Knowledge of Physics

Even 3-month-old infants have some basic knowledge of physics: objects don’t wink in and out of existence, and cannot move through one another. But beyond this there are many things they do not understand: bigger objects often launch smaller object further when they collide, or objects that do not have their center of mass supported will fall. This more advanced understanding of physics develops over the first year of life, but what is it about infants’ theories that changes? In this line of research, I am formalizing infant understanding in computational models to make testable predictions about how physical knowledge changes throughout infancy.

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Kevin A Smith
Research Scientist in Brain and Cognitive Sciences