Principles of Object Perception


Cornell University, Department of Psychology, Uris Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853


Research on human infants has begun to shed light on early-developing processes for segmenting perceptual arrays into objects. Infants appear to perceive objects by analyzing three-dimensional surface arrangements and motions. Their perception does not accord with a general tendency to maximize figural goodness or to attend to nonaccidental geometric relations in visual arrays. Object perception does accord with principles governing the motions of material bodies: Infants divide perceptual arrays into units that move as connected wholes, that move separately from one another, that tend to maintain their size and shape over motion, and that tend to act upon each other only on contact. These findings suggest that o general representation of object unity and boundaries is interposed between representations of surfaces and representations of objects of familiar kinds. The processes that construct this representation may be related to processes of physical reasoning.