Memory integration into visual perception through infancy, childhood, and adulthood

AbstractWe compared the influence of prior knowledge on visual perception in infants, children, and adults in order to explore the developmental trajectory by which prior knowledge is integrated with new sensory input. Using an identical task across age groups, we tested how participants’ accumulated experience affected their ability to judge the relative saturation levels within a pair of sequentially-presented stimuli. We found that infants and children, relative to adults, showed greater influence of the current observation and reduced influence of memory in their perception. In fact, infants and children outperformed adults in discriminating between different levels of saturation, and their performance was less biased by previously-experienced exemplars. Thus, the development of perceptual integration of memory leads to less precise discrimination in the moment, but allows observers to make use of their prior experience in interpreting a complex sensory environment.

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