What goes up may come down: perceptual process and knowledge access in the organization of complex visual patterns by young infants

Cognitive Science 27 (6):923-935 (2003)
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The relationship between perceptual categorization and organization processes in 3‐ to 4‐month‐old infants was explored. The question was whether an invariant part abstracted during category learning could interfere with Gestalt organizational processes. Experiment 1 showed that the infants could parse a circle in accord with good continuation from visual patterns consisting of a circle and a complex polygon. In Experiments 2 and 3, however, this parsing was interfered with by a prior category familiarization experience in which infants were presented with visual patterns consisting of a pacman shape and a complex polygon. Part 1 of Experiments 2 and 3 showed that the infants recognized the pacman as familiar, and Part 2 demonstrated that the representation of the pacman blocked the subsequent parsing of the circle. The results suggest that a cognitive system of flexible feature creation can override organizational principles with which a perceptual system may come pre‐equipped.



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