Infants’ sensitivity to shape changes in 2D visual forms

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Description: Research in developmental cognitive science reveals that human infants perceive the shapes of visual forms when they are repeatedly presented over long durations. Across three experiments, the current research presents 128 seven-month-old infants with shapes for the briefer durations under which they might see them in dynamic scenes and probes their sensitivity to the two fundamental geometric properties of scale- and orientation-invariant shape perception: relative length and angle. Infants detected shape changes in closed figures, in which relative length and angle were perfectly correlated. They also detected shape changes in open figures differing in angle when changes in angle were perfectly correlated with changes in line orientation. In contrast, when presented with open figures differing in only a single geometric property, infants detected changes in relative length but not angle. Although previous studies show that infants discriminate figures that differ in angle when changes in other variables, such as area or orientation, accompany the angle changes, the present study casts doubt on the possibility that angle 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 attend to relative length more than 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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