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Getting the closer object? An information-based dissociation between vision for perception and vision for movement in early infancy

Authors

  • Margot van Wermeskerken,

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    • Research Institute MOVE, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, VU University, The Netherlands
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  • John van der Kamp,

    1. Research Institute MOVE, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, VU University, The Netherlands
    2. Institute of Human Performance, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Geert J.P. Savelsbergh,

    1. Research Institute MOVE, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, VU University, The Netherlands
    2. Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and Health, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
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  • Claes von Hofsten

    1. Department of Psychology, Uppsala University, Sweden
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Address for correspondence: Margot van Wermeskerken, Faculty of Human Movement Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 9, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands; e-mail: m.van.wermeskerken@vu.nl

Abstract

In human adults two functionally and neuro-anatomically separate systems exist for the use of visual information in perception and the use of visual information to control movements (Milner & Goodale, 1995, 2008). We investigated whether this separation is already functioning in the early stages of the development of reaching. To this end, 6- and 7-month-old infants were presented with two identical objects at identical distances in front of an illusory Ponzo-like background that made them appear to be located at different distances. In two further conditions without the illusory background, the two objects were presented at physically different distances. Preferential reaching outcomes indicated that the allocentric distance information contained in the illusory background affected the perception of object distance. Yet, infants' reaching kinematics were only affected by the objects' physical distance and not by the perceptual distance manipulation. These findings were taken as evidence for the two-visual systems, as proposed by Milner and Goodale (2008), being functional in early infancy. We discuss the wider implications of this early dissociation.

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