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Tessa Dekker, Theo Cooper, Aisha McLean; Two-tone object recognition poses a major challenge for the developing visual system until late in childhood.. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1242. doi: 10.1167/17.10.1242.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
While many basic visual abilities develop during the first years of life, several skills improve substantially until late childhood. Clear insight into what these abilities are and why they develop so late is currently lacking. Here we provide a striking demonstration of fundamentally different object processing skills in children and adults. We presented 53 children aged 4-12 years and control adults with 20 different two-tone images on a touchscreen. In these images, original highlights and shadows were shown as solid blacks and whites so that outlines were obscured and objects difficult to recognise. On each trial, we first tested if participants could identify the object in the two-tone image. We then presented participants with the original image, firstly to ensure they knew all objects, secondly because this induces mandatory two-tone object recognition in typical adults. We then presented the two-tone image again, measuring recognition by asking participants to point out two clearly identifiable object features. We computed the deviation from where these features were pointed out in the original, correcting for individual aiming precision. Strikingly, and in line with previous reports (Kovacs & Eisenberg, 1998; Yoon et al., 2003), 4-5 year-olds' aiming points deviated hugely from the correct feature, demonstrating no change in two-tone recognition after seeing the original. This is unlikely to be due to attention or memory lapse, as the original was shown simultaneously or just before the two-tone. Feature localization and initial two-tone object recognition improved gradually with age between 4-12 years, with adult-like performance only in 9 to 12-year-olds. Thus, until late childhood the ability to recognise objects given poor visual information continues to improve substantially. This may reflect changes in visuospatial processing (e.g., global vs. piecemeal processing), object knowledge, or both in tandem.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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