Date: Wed 10 Sep 2003 - 00:07:42 GMT
Apparently, although parts I and III of this paper posted, Part II
failed to. Here it is...
THE CONTRIBUTION OF SEMIOTICS
The growth of the discipline of semiots has furnished
investigators with more precise and powerful ways of seeking to
answer such questions. Semiotics is the study of signs and sign
systems, and is subdivided into syntactics (the study of sigh-sign
relations within a sign system), pragmatics (the study of the
relationship of signs to their producers), and semantics (the study
of the relationship between signs and the referents which they
represent). Far broader than the study of language per se,
semiotics studies all types of symbolic behavior, and insights
garnered in the field have made possible the deveopment of
experiments the results of which unambiguously indicate the
presence or absence of capacities within preverbal infants. For
instance, a study by Lewis and Brooks-Gunn (1979) explored the
acquisition of self-awareness in preverbal infants by attempting to
elicit behavior symbolic of its presence or absence. Infants were
placed in front of mirrors after a spot of rouge was applied to each
infant's nose. If the infant ignored the rouge or touched the mirror
(as if the image was one of a conspecific, or another infant), self- awareness was judged to be absent. If, however, the infant touched his or her own nose, he or she was deemed to be self- aware. Such nose-touching behavior was never observed in infants younger than fifteen months of age, and rarely prior to eighteen; between the ages of eithteen and twenty months a dramatic increase in self-directed behavior was noted, and at the age of twenty-four months practiaclly all subjects tested touched their noses. This is the same period in which object permanence appears, thus corroborating Piaget's hypothesis that construction of self and reality proceed in parallel from their perceptual interface into internalized self-identity and externalized world- stability (1972, 1976). An experiment of this type would seem to offer the best hope of investigating the development of perceptual structure within the child.
The disruption of the mother's face-voice relationship has been
shown to distress infants four months old, and perhaps as early as
one month old (Aronson & Rosenbloom, 1971; Carpenter, 1973;
McGurk and Lewis, 1974). This entails that by the age of four
months (and possibly earlier), both the mother's face and her voice
are known to and recognizeable by the infant, and this fact can be
used in studies based upon selective attention.
EXPERIMENT ONE - EXPLORING THE DEVELOPMENT OF
STRUCTURAL SOPHISTICATION IN THE VISUAL FIELDS
OF PREVERBAL INFANTS
Infants of various ages are chosen who demonstrate selective
attention to pictures of their mothers' faces. They are than
presented with increasingly abstract representational renderings of
their mothers' faces, nested within arrays of representations,
rendered in the same styles, of the faces of adults unfamiliar to
them. Some forms of abstraction which readily suggest
themselves are color, shape (mirror distortion), and gestalt
closure, as well as two or more types of alteration in concert. The
percentage of presence of selective attention to the renderings of
their mothers' faces is noted for each age group and the data is
analyzed for significant statistical differences.
EXPERIMENT TWO - EXPLORING THE DEVELOPMENT OF
STRUCTURAL SOPHISTICATION IN THE AUDITORY
FIELDS OF PREVERBAL INFANTS
Infants are chosen who display selective attention to recordings of
their mothers' voices. They are than presented with increasingly
distorted recordings of their mothers' voices, nested within
sequences of strangers' voices distorted in the same manner.
Possible forms of distortion include pitch, timbre, inflection, and
two or more types of distortion in combination. The percentage of
presence of selective attention to the recordings of their mothers'
voices is noted for each age group and the data is anlyzed for
significant statistical differences.
COMMENTS UPON PROPOSED EXPERIMENTS
In both experimental cases, the develoment of perceptual
sophistication in the studied modality may be inferred from the
level of abstraction and distortion which nevertheless elicits
statistically significant selective attention from the preverbal
infants. It is hypothecized that older infants will selectively attend
to more complexly altered stimuli, and that critical periods akin to
the one for self-awareness which Lewis and brooks-Gunn found
will be discovered, one for visuospatial stimuli and one for
auditory stimuli, where dramatic increases in the infants'
recognition (measured via selective attention) of altered or
distorted mother-based stimuli will be observed, and that these
critical periods will be mappable onto the sequence of cortical
myelination noted in Kraft.
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