Infants’ sensitivity to shape changes in 2D visual forms

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Description: Research in developmental cognitive science reveals that human infants perceive shape changes in 2D visual forms when repeatedly presented over long durations. Nevertheless, infants’ sensitivity to shape under the brief conditions of natural viewing has been little studied. Three experiments tested for this sensitivity by presenting 128 seven-month-old infants with shapes for the briefer durations under which they might see them in dynamic scenes. The experiments probed infants’ sensitivity to two fundamental geometric properties of scale- and orientation-invariant shape: relative length and angle. Infants detected changes in closed figures, which presented changes in both geometric properties. Infants also detected changes in open figures differing in angle when figures were presented at limited orientations. In contrast, when open figures were presented at unlimited orientations, infants detected changes in relative length but not in angle. The present research therefore suggests that relative length is the primary geometric property by which infants perceive scale- and orientation-invariant shape. As infants look around at the cluttered and changing visual world, they may be strikingly insensitive to angle.

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A. Context figures, shape-and-area change figures, and area-only change figures for Experiments 1A and 1B. The figures bounded by red boxes are different shapes and different sizes, and they were presented in alternation on one side of the screen. On the other side of the screen, a size change but no shape change was presented. Half of the infants saw the top left figure in each red box alternate...

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