PSYC 3P60 Lecture 4 Wednesday, Jan 27/16
Infant Perception and Cognition
We would be bombarded with sensory information and would not
be able to process it without perception.
Perceptual Development Theoretical Overview
Gestalt psychologists (kohler, Gibsons)
If someone tells you to look at something you can find it by
focusing your attention on it, you may miss it if its not pointed
out to you.
Brain constantly works to organize sensory information
The size of the object does not change due to distance but the
retinal image changes, it will appear to look bigger or smaller,
but that is not the case.
This is your brain showing organization
Our eyes are capable of light adaptation, our perception is
adjusted based on the lighting
Three Overarching Themes
How can we ask young infants what they know?
Infants are prepared to learn
For infants, we can ask them what they know but looking at what they
Techniques for testing infants
Preference paradigm: natural bias to look at something that you
What can babies see?
Show them cards that have stripes vs. no stripes
Looking to see which side the baby looks at, left or right (pattern
is on one of the sides)
Teller Acuity cards
o Stripes get smaller and smaller, baby will stop showing a
preference and look at all the cards getting smaller in size.
Visual Acuity, 30x worse than that of an adult
Contrast Sensitivity, 20 to 25x less sensitive
o Ability to differentiate luminance Even very young babies, few minutes old they can still pick out
Blurred faces of mom
Prefer to look at bigger square patterns
Do infants prefer attractive faces?
Yes, they prefer to look at more “attractive face”
Theme: Infants are prepared to learn
Newborns are drawn to face-like patterns
o They look more at a face-like stimulus rather than an
How specific is this bias?
o Bias for: face-like stimulus, or just top-heavy patterns
o It happens to be not only face likeness but things with
more at the top of the photo
o It may not need to be exactly a face, anything face like
with more energy at the top seems to be the more likely
Nevertheless, newborns will look more at faces than anything
else in their environment
Additional evidence against face-specificity
Biases not specific to human faces
Babies will look more at more “attractive animal”
Infants will turn their head to smell mom’s breast pad over a
stranger’s breast pad
Sight and Touch
Infants looked longer at pacifier that matched the tactile
sensation of what they were sucking
This shoes perceiving, understanding and matching with visual
*The preference paradigm shows that babies know a difference
between two stimuli but not necessarily if they like it.
Responses decrease to repeated stimuli
When the stimulus changes our response changes accordingly
Which stimuli are perceived to be different?How can we ask babies?
Can you tell the difference between A and B?
Discrimination: if there is a difference (what they look at)
You can tell babies reactions (grabbing, sucking, looking, smiling)
this shows how interested they are in the stimulus.
Newborns show the externality effect
If you place a border around two objects they show no habitation
which shoes they are just looking at the contours not the actual
Implications for faces
At birth newborns tend to look at external contour
This may be due to infant acuity because they cannot actually
see facial features, but they can see contour more.
At 3 days of age babies with habituate and dishibituate, but not
when the faces don’t have hair.
Paradox: are they really insensitive to the internal features?
For attractive hair and face, babies look more at attractive face
And when its an attractive face but not hair compared to
unattractive face and hair, they will look at the attractive face
with unattractive hair.
Phonemic Discrimination (auditory)
Phonemes are very difficult “Ba” vs. “Pa” with a delay , you can
tell the difference, if you say them both fast, then you cannot
Repeat “ba” until infants sucking decreases
Then present “Pa”
o No change in sucking- no discrimination
o Increase in sucking- discrimination
Result: 1 and 4 month old infants could discriminate phonemes.
How can we ask young infants?
Do you prefer A or B?
o Answer: teach infants to do behavior 1 (e.g. look to the
left) to receive stimulus A, and behavior 2 (look to the
right) to receive stimulus B.
Sucking behavior, teach infants to suck more to either moms
voice or familiar story, they suck more to mom’s voice.
Newborns show deficits in
o Visual acuity o Contrast sensitivity
o Color perception
Auditory Development: Language