Visual segmentation of oriented textures by infants.
Atkinson J., Braddick O.
The infant's visual system contains orientation-sensitive mechanisms from the first weeks of life. Differences in texture orientation can serve as a basis for rapid preattentive localization and segmentation in adults. We tested whether infants could use their orientation-sensitive mechanisms in the same way, by forced-choice preferential looking, using displays of line segments oriented at 45 degrees in a rectangular patch and 135 degrees in the surrounding region. Performance was compared with that for displays of similar elements with uniform orientation but with the patch defined by luminance contrast. Infants of 14-18 weeks old showed consistent preference for both orientation- and contrast-defined patches, indicating the ability to segment the field by orientation. Infants of 8-12 weeks performed comparably to the older infants on contrast-based segmentation but did not show a statistically significant preference with orientation-based segmentation. In a second experiment, preference was also tested for a region of mixed orientation versus a region of uniform orientation. The 14-18-week-olds did not show this preference, suggesting that their preference for the discrepant texture patch genuinely reflected texture segmentation and not simply the presence of two different orientations on one side of the display. The results are discussed in terms of the possible maturation of intracortical connections subserving texture grouping and segmentation.