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Visual mental representations supporting object drawing: How naming a novel object with a novel count noun impacts on young children's object drawing

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Object drawing can be supported by a number of cognitive resources, each making available visual information about the object being drawn. These resources include perceptual input, short-term visual memory, and long-term visual memory. Each of these resources has the potential to make available distinct forms of visual representation, including viewpoint-specific and viewpoint-independent representations, object-specific and category representations, and separate representations of object colour. We review neuropsychological and developmental evidence supporting these claims, including evidence that the same drawing can reflect the influence of multiple forms of visual representation. Seven experiments are then reported, investigating object drawing by 4- to 6-year-old children, to confirm the support for drawing provided by different forms of visual representation. Young children are selected for investigation because their drawing is relatively unconstrained by culturally determined norms which, in our culture, dictate that objects should be drawn just as they appear from the vantage point of the drawer. To distinguish the support provided by object and category representations, the experiments exploit the privileged links between count nouns as object labels, and representations of object categories. In addition, pre-established representations, visual or otherwise, are precluded from influencing drawing by asking the children to draw novel objects, and by creating novel count nouns with which to label the objects. The results reveal how viewpoint-specific perceptual representations, object-specific representations of shape and of colour, and category representations of shape can each impact on object drawing, and in some circumstances on the same drawing. It appears that simple drawing tasks have the potential to reveal some of the distinct types of representation able to support visual cognition.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of Lancaster, UK

Publication date: 01 April 2006

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