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The authors outline a cognitive and computational account of causal learning in children. They propose that children use specialized cognitive systems that allow them to recover an accurate "causal map" of the world: an abstract, coherent, learned representation of the causal relations among events. This kind of knowledge can be perspicuously understood in(More)
Three studies explored whether and when children could categorize objects on the basis of a novel underlying causal power. To test this we constructed a "blicket detector," a machine that lit up and played music when certain objects were placed on it. First, 2-, 3- and 4-year-old children saw that an object labeled as a "blicket" would set off the machine.(More)
Three studies investigated whether young children make accurate causal inferences on the basis of patterns of variation and covariation. Children were presented with a new causal relation by means of a machine called the "blicket detector." Some objects, but not others, made the machine light up and play music. In the first 2 experiments, children were told(More)
Previous research suggests that children can infer causal relations from patterns of events. However, what appear to be cases of causal inference may simply reduce to children recognizing relevant associations among events, and responding based on those associations. To examine this claim, in Experiments 1 and 2, children were introduced to a " blicket(More)
The posterior superior temporal sulcus (STS) region plays an important role in the perception of social acts, although its full role has not been completely clarified. This functional magnetic resonance imaging experiment examined activity in the STS region as participants viewed actions that were congruent or incongruent with intentions established by a(More)
Recent research has focused on how interventions benefit causal learning. This research suggests that the main benefit of interventions is in the temporal and conditional probability information that interventions provide a learner. But when one generates interventions, one must also decide what interventions to generate. In three experiments, we(More)
Pretend play appears to be important to a theory of mind, but exactly how or why has been controversial. One widely entertained hypothesis about why pretense is important to understanding minds is termed the Metarepresentational Model. According to this model, children knowingly consider and manipulate mental representations during pretense. Children(More)
Previous research has suggested that preschoolers possess a cognitive system that allows them to construct an abstract, coherent representation of causal relations among events. Such a system lets children reason retrospectively when they observe ambiguous data in a rational manner (e.g., D. M. Sobel, J. B. Tenenbaum, & A. Gopnik, 2004). However, there is(More)
Four experiments examined children's inferences about the relation between objects' internal parts and their causal properties. In Experiment 1, 4-year-olds recognized that objects with different internal parts had different causal properties, and those causal properties transferred if the internal part moved to another object. In Experiment 2, 4-year-olds(More)
People are adept at inferring novel causal relations, even from only a few observations. Prior knowledge about the probability of encountering causal relations of various types and the nature of the mechanisms relating causes and effects plays a crucial role in these inferences. We test a formal account of how this knowledge can be used and acquired, based(More)