Infants’ Perception of Object Trajectories



Filling in the gaps in what humans see is a fundamental perceptual skill, but little is known about the developmental origins of occlusion perception. Three experiments were conducted with infants between 2 and 6 months of age to investigate perception of the continuity of an object trajectory that was briefly occluded. The pattern of results across experiments provided little evidence of veridical responses to trajectory occlusion in the youngest infants, but by 6 months, perceptual completion was more robust. Four–month–olds’ responses indicated that they perceived continuity under a short duration of occlusion, but when the object was out of sight for a longer interval, they appeared to perceive the trajectory as discontinuous. These results suggest that perceptual completion of a simple object trajectory (and, by logical necessity, veridical object perception) is not functional at birth but emerges across the first several months after onset of visual experience.