The interplay between perceptual organization and categorization in the representation of complex visual patterns by young infants

Quinn, P. C., Schyns, P. G., & Goldstone, R. L. (2006). The interplay between perceptual organization and categorization in the representation of complex visual patterns by young infants.Journal of Experimental Child Psychology95, 116-127.

The relation between perceptual organization and categorization processes in 3- and 4-month-olds was explored. The question was whether an invariant part abstracted during category learning could interfere with Gestalt organizational processes. A 2003 study by Quinn and Schyns had reported that an initial category familiarization experience in which infants were presented with visual patterns consisting of a pacman shape and a complex polygon could interfere with infants’ subsequent good continuationbased parsing of a circle from visual patterns consisting of a circle and a complex polygon. However, an alternative noninterference explanation for the results was possible because the pacman had been presented with greater frequency and duration than had the circle. The current study repeated Quinn and Schyns’s procedure but provided an equivalent number of familiarization trials and duration of study time for the infants to process the pacman during initial familiarization and the circle during subsequent familiarization. The results replicated the previous Wndings of Quinn and Schyns. The data are consistent with the interference account and suggest that a cognitive system of adaptable feature creation can take precedence over organizational principles with which a perceptual system comes preequipped.

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