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Volume 5 Issue 2 (May 2002), Pages F1-F7, 151-264

Learning to perceive object unity: a connectionist account (pages 151-172)

To explore questions of how human infants begin to perceive partly occluded objects, we devised two connectionist models of perceptual development. The models were endowed with an existing ability to detect several kinds of visual information that have been found important in infants’ and adults’ perception of object unity (motion, co‐motion, common motion, relatability, parallelism, texture and T‐junctions). They were then presented with stimuli consisting of either one or two objects and an occluding screen. The models’ task was to determine whether the object or objects were joined when such a percept was ambiguous, after specified amounts of training with events in which a subset of possible visual information was provided. The model that was trained in an enriched environment achieved superior levels of performance and was able to generalize veridical percepts to a wide range of novel stimuli. Implications for perceptual development in humans, current theories of development and origins of knowledge are discussed.

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