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Julie Freschl, David Melcher, Zsuzsa Kaldy, Erik Blaser; Visual temporal integration windows are adult-like in 5- to 7-year-old children. Journal of Vision 2019;19(7):5. doi: 10.1167/19.7.5.
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The visual system must organize dynamic input into useful percepts across time, balancing between stability and sensitivity to change. The temporal integration window (TIW) has been hypothesized to underlie this balance: If two or more stimuli fall within the same TIW, they are integrated into a single percept; those that fall in different windows are segmented (Arnett & Di Lollo, 1979; Wutz, Muschter, van Koningsbruggen, Weisz, & Melcher, 2016). Visual TIWs have been studied in adults, showing average windows of 65 ms (Wutz et al., 2016); however, it is unclear how windows develop through early childhood. Here we measured TIWs in 5- to 7-year-old children and adults, using a variant of the missing dot task (Di Lollo, 1980; Wutz et al. 2016), in which integration and segmentation thresholds were measured within the same participant, using the same stimuli. Participants saw a sequence of two displays separated by an interstimulus interval (ISI) that determined the visibility of a visual search target. Longer ISIs increased the likelihood of detecting a segmentation target (but decreased detection for the integration target) although shorter ISIs increased the likelihood of detecting the integration target (but decreased detection of the segmentation target). We could then estimate the TIW by measuring the point at which these two functions intersect. Children's TIWs (M = 68 ms) were comparable to adults' (M = 73 ms) with no appreciable age trend within our sample, indicating that TIWs reach adult levels by approximately 5 years of age.
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