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Abstract

A fundamental question of perceptual development concerns how infants come to perceive partly hidden objects as unified across a spatial gap imposed by an occluder. Much is known about the time course of development of perceptual completion during the first several months after birth, as well as some of the visual information that supports unity perception in infants. The goal of this investigation was to examine the inputs to this process. We recorded eye movements in 3-month-old infants as they participated in a standard object unity task and found systematic differences in scanning patterns between those infants whose post-habituation preferences were indicative of unity perception versus those infants who did not perceive unity. Perceivers, relative to nonperceivers, scanned more reliably in the vicinity of the visible rod parts and scanned more frequently across the range of rod motion. These results suggest that emerging object concepts are tied closely to available visual information in the environment, and the process of information pickup.