Integration of Sequential Information for Shape Perception by Infants: A Developmental Study


  • This research was supported by Australian Research Committee grants to B. E. McKenzie and to B. E. McKenzie and R. H. Day. We thank the parents and staff of the Eltham, Bundoora, Northcote, and Whittlesea Maternal and Child Health Centres for their participation in this project, and Mike Durham for his assistance with computer graphics.

Reprint requests should be addressed to B. E. McKenzie, Department of Psychology, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia 3083.


Perception of form by spatiotemporal integration was investigated in 3 experiments. In the first, infants aged 8, 10, and 12 months were tested using a novelty-preference procedure to determine the earliest age at which recognition of rectilinear and curvilinear form occurred. Infants were shown a light-point tracing of the outline of a figure, followed by simultaneous presentation of 2 test objects, one of the same shape as the tracing and one of a different shape. The tracing was double the size of the test objects. Only infants in the oldest group responded selectively by looking longer at the object of different shape. In the second experiment with 12-month-old infants only, it was shown that recognition of rectilinear, but not curvilinear, form occurred despite a difference in the orientation and size of tracing and object. Computer-generated tracings were used in the final experiment to compare form recognition for 2D and 3D stimuli. Selective responding occurred only for the latter. These findings show that by 12 months infants perceive the correspondence between the figural properties of a tracing and its extended form, but that this perception is dependent on the provision of depth cues.