Abstract

Glass patterns are moirés created from a sparse random-dot field paired with its spatially shifted copy. Because discrimination of these patterns is not based on local features, they have been used extensively to study global integration processes. Here, we investigated whether 4- to 5.5-month-old infants are sensitive to the global structure of Glass patterns by measuring visual-evoked potentials. Although we found strong responses to the appearance of the constituent dots, we found sensitivity to the global structure of the Glass patterns in the infants only over a very limited range of spatial separation. In contrast, we observed robust responses in the infants when we connected the dot pairs of the Glass pattern with lines. Moreover, both infants and adults showed differential responses to exchanges between line patterns portraying different global structures. A control study varying luminance contrast in adults suggests that infant sensitivity to global structure is not primarily limited by reduced element visibility. Together our results suggest that the insensitivity to structure in conventional Glass patterns is due to inefficiencies in extracting the local orientation cues generated by the dot pairs. Once the local orientations are made unambiguous or when the interpolation span is small, infants can integrate these signals over the image.

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