X x x

Figure 5.3 Familiarization and test stimuli used to test adherence to the form similarity Gestalt organizational principle in Quinn, Bhatt, Brush, Grimes, and Sharpnack (2002). The rationale is that if infants can organize the familiar stimulus in the top panel into columns, then the vertical-column test stimulus should be perceived as familiar, and the horizontal-row test stimulus should be preferred. Similarly, if infants can organize the familiar stimulus in the bottom panel into rows, then the horizontal-row test stimulus should be perceived as familiar, and the vertical-column test stimulus should be preferred.

The results were that only the older infants responded preferentially to the novel organization; the younger infants divided their attention evenly between the two test stimuli. The failure of the young infants to attend to the novel organization was also shown in control experiments not to be the result of insufficient familiarization time or the inability to discriminate between the individual X and O shapes.

The overall pattern of experimental results indicates that 6- to 7-month-olds, but not 3- to 4-month-olds, used form similarity information to organize visual patterns. Bhatt, Quinn, Chia, and Bertin (2001) have replicated this set of outcomes with stimuli in which the individual elements were arrows and triangles, thereby suggesting a developmental trend of a general nature rather than an idiosyncratic response to a particular set of stimuli. In combination with the studies showing that newborns and 3-month-olds can use lightness similarity (Farroni et al., 2000; Quinn et al., 1993), the present findings indicating that only 6- to 7-month-olds can use form similarity are consistent with models of the genesis of object perception which suggest that different Gestalt principles become functional over different time courses of development.

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