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  1. Young children tend to prioritize objects over layouts in their drawings, often juxtaposing “floating” objects in the picture plane instead of grounding those objects in drawn representations of the extended layout. In the present study, we explore whether implicitly directing children’s attention to elements of the extended layout through a drawing’s communicative goal—to indicate the location of a hidden target to someone else—might lead children to draw more layout information. By comparing children’s drawings to a different group of children’s verbal descriptions, moreover, we explore how communicative medium affects children’s inclusion of layout and object information. If attention modulates children’s symbolic communication about layouts and objects, then children should both draw and talk about layouts and objects when they are relevant to the communicative task. If there are challenges or advantages specific to either medium, then children might treat layouts and objects differently when drawing versus describing them. We find evidence for both of these possibilities: Attention affects what children include in symbolic communication, like drawings and language, but children are more concise in their inclusion of relevant layout or object information in language versus drawings. 
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  2. Online developmental psychology studies are still in their infancy, but their role is newly urgent in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the suspension of in-person research. Are online studies with infants a suitable stand-in for laboratory-based studies? Across two unmonitored online experiments using a change-detection looking-time paradigm with 96 7-month-old infants, we found that infants did not exhibit measurable sensitivities to the basic shape information that distinguishes between 2D geometric forms, as had been observed in previous laboratory experiments. Moreover, while infants were distracted in our online experiments, such distraction was nevertheless not a reliable predictor of their ability to discriminate shape information. Our findings suggest that the change-detection paradigm may not elicit infants’ shape discrimination abilities when stimuli are presented on small, personal computer screens because infants may not perceive two discrete events with only one event displaying uniquely changing information that draws their attention. Some developmental paradigms used with infants, even those that seem well-suited to the constraints and goals of online data collection, may thus not yield results consistent with the laboratory results that rely on highly controlled settings and specialized equipment, such as large screens. As developmental researchers continue to adapt laboratory-based methods to online contexts, testing those methods online is a necessary first step in creating robust tools and expanding the space of inquiry for developmental science conducted online. 
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  3. To achieve human-like common sense about everyday life, machine learning systems must understand and reason about the goals, preferences, and actions of other agents in the environment. By the end of their first year of life, human infants intuitively achieve such common sense, and these cognitive achievements lay the foundation for humans' rich and complex understanding of the mental states of others. Can machines achieve generalizable, commonsense reasoning about other agents like human infants? The Baby Intuitions Benchmark (BIB) challenges machines to predict the plausibility of an agent's behavior based on the underlying causes of its actions. Because BIB's content and paradigm are adopted from developmental cognitive science, BIB allows for direct comparison between human and machine performance. Nevertheless, recently proposed, deep-learning-based agency reasoning models fail to show infant-like reasoning, leaving BIB an open challenge. 
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    Humans have been faced with the challenges of pictorial production since at least the Paleolithic. Curiously, while the capacity to navigate layouts and recognize objects in everyday life comes almost effortlessly, inherited from our evolutionary past, the capacity to draw layouts and objects is more effortful, often needing time to improve over the course of an individual’s development and with the technological innovations acquired through culture. The present study examines whether young children might nevertheless rely on phylogenetically ancient spatial capacities for navigation and object recognition when creating uniquely human pictorial art. We apply a novel digital coding technique to a publicly available dataset of young children’s drawings of layouts and objects to explore children’s use of classic pictorial depth cues including size, position, and overlap. To convey pictorial depth, children appear to adopt several cues, without a preference among them, younger than had been suggested by previous studies that used other, less rich, analytic techniques. Moreover, children use more cues to pictorial depth in drawings of layouts versus objects. Children’s creation of uniquely human pictorial symbols may thus reflect their heightened use of depth for navigating layouts compared to recognizing objects, both cognitive capacities that humans share with other animals. 
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