NIH Research Festival
Illusory contour (IC) stimuli have a long history of use in vision research because they reveal the constructive nature of visual perception. Reliably and robustly, edges are perceived that are not actually there but instead are induced by surrounding elements. Investigating the factors involved in such edge perception processes has led to important advances in understanding vision. In the present study, 5-month-old infants and adults viewed stimulus forms having either real or illusory contours while their visual scanning was measured with an eye tracker. Performance was examined by contour fixations corresponding to the exploratory extraction of edges. Performance was also examined by form fixations corresponding to the detection of coherent wholes. Infants and adults alike looked more at contours when they were illusory than when they were real, revealing comparable strategies of exploration for extraction. Fixations of the forms, however, differed by age. When contours were real, infants’ form fixations exceeded those of adults. When contours were illusory, adults looked more at forms than infants. For perceptually binding figures into forms, infants appear more dependent on real contours than do adults.
Scientific Focus Area: Social and Behavioral Sciences
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