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Benjamin Balas, Amanda Auen, Josselyn Thrash, Shea Lammers; Children's use of local and global visual features for material perception. Journal of Vision 2020;20(2):10. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.2.10.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Adults can rapidly recognize material properties in natural images, and children's performance in material categorization tasks suggests that this ability develops slowly during childhood. In the current study, we further examined the information children use to recognize materials during development by asking how the use of local versus global visual features for material perception changes in middle childhood. We recruited adults and 5- to 10-year-old children for three experiments that required participants to distinguish between shape-matched images of real and artificial food. Accurate performance in this task requires participants to distinguish between a wide range of material properties characteristic of each category, thus testing material perception abilities broadly. In two tasks, we applied distinct methods of image scrambling (block scrambling and diffeomorphic scrambling) to parametrically disrupt global appearance while preserving features in small spatial neighborhoods. In the third task, we used image blurring to parametrically disrupt local feature visibility. Our key question was whether or not participant age affected performance differently when local versus global appearance was disrupted. We found that although image blur led to disproportionately poorer performance in young children, this effect was reduced or absent when diffeomorphic scrambling was used. We interpret this outcome as evidence that the ability to recruit large-scale visual features for material perception may develop slowly during middle childhood.
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