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WIREs Cogn Sci
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Development of visual perception

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Abstract Processes of visual development that yield a view of the world as coherent and stable begin well before birth and extend over the first several years after the onset of visual experience. Infants are born capable of seeing and with specific preferences that guide the point of gaze to relevant portions of the visual scene to support learning about objects and faces. Visual development after birth is characterized by critical periods in many notable visual functions, and by extensive learning from experience and increasing control over eye movement systems. WIREs Cogni Sci 2011 2 515–528 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.128 This article is categorized under: Psychology > Perception and Psychophysics

Two visual scenes.

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(a) Schematic depiction of stimuli used to assess smooth pursuit in young infants. A toy moved laterally at one of five speeds in one of five vertical positions on the screen. Only one toy was shown at a time. (b) Random‐dot kinematograms used to assess motion direction discrimination in young infants. Dotted lines and dots, shown here to demarcate regions of motion, were not present in the stimulus. (c) Individual infants' performance in smooth pursuit and direction discrimination were correlated with age. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 59. Copyright 2008, American Psychological Association, Inc.)

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Subcortical and cortical structures involved in oculomotor control. The posterior system makes decisions about target selection and fixation duration, and the anterior system helps guide the eye movements accurately. Both are part of the secondary system discussed in the text. FEF = frontal eye fields, MEF = medial eye fields. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 52. Copyright 2001, Elsevier.)

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Distribution of photoreceptors in the retina, corresponding to the dropoff in acuity with greater eccentricity (distance from the fovea). (a) Cone density; (b) rod density. N = nasal, T = temporal, D = dorsal, V = ventral. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 46. Copyright 1990, Wiley.)

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Midbrain (LGN, the lateral geniculate nucleus) and cortical structures involved in visual processing, and the flow of visual input between structures. PP = posterior parietal, IT = inferior temporal. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 39. Copyright 2000 Oxford University Press.)

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A rod‐and‐box display from experiments on neonates' perception of object unity. Photo courtesy of Alan Slater.

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Face‐like stimuli from experiments on neonates' preferences. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 28. Copyright 2002, American Psychological Association, Inc.)

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Open versus closed forms from experiments on neonates' categorization. (Reprinted with permission from Ref 26. Copyright 2003 Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.)

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A newborn infant tested for perception of object unity. The infant is held by an experienced research assistant and positioned in view of the stimulus display, seen at right. In this case the infant is not entirely cooperative. Photo courtesy of Alan Slater.

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