Anderson, E. M., Hespos, S. J., & Rips, L. J. (2018). Five-month-old infants have expectations for the accumulation of nonsolid substances. Cognition, 175, 1-10.
The experiments run by Anderson et al., of the Infant Cognition Lab headed by SILC faculty member Susan Hespos, suggest infants have basic awareness of the properties of nonsolid objects, such as sand. The first experiment was constructed to answer the question, “Do infants know that the number of pours [of sand] determines the number of piles [of sand]?” And the second experiment was concerned with what infants attributed cause to, “Do the number of pours or the number of cups determine the number of piles?
Past research has shown infants also have a sophisticated perception of the properties of solid objects in their environment. Since the awareness of substance concepts of solid and nonsolid objects seem to occur during the same developmental period, the researchers also suggest it is possible that these cognitive abilities develop alongside one another.