Perceptual Organization in Infancy: Bottom-Up and Top-Down Influences

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A program of research on the origins and development of perceptual organization during infancy is reviewed. The data suggest that infant perception of visual pattern information is guided by adherence to a number of bottom-up, stimulus-based organizational principles (including common motion, common region, connectedness, continuity, proximity, and similarity) that become functional over different time courses of development. In addition, not all principles may be readily deployed in the manner proposed by Gestalt psychologists and the emergence of some may be facilitated by perceptual learning. Moreover, there is evidence that the principles can be modulated by top-down influences inclusive of object concept knowledge. This body of research indicates that it is necessary to analyze stimulus-based automatic organizational processes as well as perceptual learning and other top-down processes to understand visual organization and its development in infancy.

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