Visual Development and Object Recognition


Learning Objectives

Know that infants have full color vision and face perception at birth.

Be able to describe the developmental changes of depth perception and object perception.

Vision is the most poorly developed sense at birth. Newborns typically cannot see further than 8 to 16 inches away from their faces (which is about the distance from the newborn’s face to the mother/caregiver when an infant is breastfeeding/bottle-feeding). When viewing a person’s face, newborns do not look at the eyes the way adults do; rather, they tend to look at the chin—a less detailed part of the face.

Newborns have difficulty distinguishing between colors, but within a few months they are able to discriminate between colors as well as adults do. Due to their poor visual acuity, infants look longer at checkerboards with larger squares rather than the boards with many smaller squares. This behavior can actually be observed in a lab setting through eye tracking experiments. Eye tracking is when an observer tracks the gaze of an individual and is sometimes accompanied by measuring the amount of time during which that individual spends looking at one visual stimulus versus another. Thus, toys for infants are sometimes manufactured with black and white patterns rather than pastel colors because the higher contrast between black and white makes the pattern more visible to the immature visual system (Fig.11.2.1).

By two or three months, they will seek more detail when exploring an object visually and begin showing preferences for unusual images over familiar ones, for patterns over solids, for faces over patterns, and for three-dimensional objects over flat images. Sensitivity to binocular depth cues, which require inputs from both eyes, is evident by about three months and continues to develop during the first six months. By six months, the infant can perceive depth perception in pictures as well (Sen, Yonas, & Knill, 2001). Infants who have experience crawling and exploring will pay greater attention to visual cues of depth and modify their actions accordingly (Berk, 2007).


Fig. 11.2.1. Color and Patterns in Infant Toys. An infant is playing with a toy with different patterns and colors, where the black and white pattern on the toy is most likely more visible to the infant due to color contrast. (Provided by: Pixabay. License: CC-BY-4.0.)
Open Textbook Library, Child Growth and Development.
Provided by: College of the Canyons
License: CC-BY 4.0


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Introduction to Sensation and Perception Copyright © 2022 by Students of PSY 3031 and Edited by Dr. Cheryl Olman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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