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Volume 10 Issue 4 (July 2007), Pages F15-F38, 423-511

The role of kinetic information in newborns’ perception of illusory contours (pages 492-501)


Previous research, in which static figures were used, showed that the ability to perceive illusory contours emerges around 7 months of age. However, recently, evidence has suggested that 2–3‐month‐old infants are able to perceive illusory contours when motion information is available (Johnson & Mason, 2002; Otsuka & Yamaguchi, 2003). The present study was aimed at investigating whether even newborns might perceive kinetic illusory contours when a motion easily detected by the immature newborn's visual system (i.e. stroboscopic motion) is used. In Experiment 1, using a preference looking technique, newborns’ perception of kinetic illusory contours was explored using a Kanizsa figure in a static and in a kinetic display. The results showed that newborns manifest a preference for the illusory contours only in the kinetic, but not in the static, condition. In Experiment 2, using an habituation technique, newborns were habituated to a moving shape that was matched with the background in terms of random‐texture‐surface; thus the recovery of the shape was possible relying only on kinetic information. The results showed that infants manifested a novelty preference when presented with luminance‐defined familiar and novel shapes. Altogether these findings provide evidence that motion enhances (Experiment 1) and sometimes is sufficient (Experiment 2) to induce newborns’ perception of illusory contours.

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