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Form perception at birth: Cohen and Younger (1984) revisited

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date1991
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Journal number3
Volume51
Number of pages12
Pages395-406
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Cohen (1988; Cohen & Younger, 1984) has suggested that there is a shift in the perception of form sometime after 6 weeks of age. Prior to this age infants can remember the specific orientations of line segments, but cannot process and remember the angular relations that line segments can make. Experiment 1 used simple line stimuli with newborn infants to test this suggestion. Following habituation to a simple two-line angle the newborns dishabituated to a change of orientation but not to a change in angle, confirming Cohen and Younger's suggestion that orientation is a powerful cue in early shape perception. In Experiments 2 and 3 newborns were familiarized either to an acute or to an obtuse angle that changed its orientation over trials. On subsequent test trials the babies gave strong novelty preferences to a different angle. Alternative interpretations of the results are discussed, but these experimental findings are compatible with the suggestion that newborns can quickly learn to process angular relations, and that rudimentary form perception may not be dependent on a lengthy period of learning and/or maturation for its development.