Perception of partly occluded objects in infancy* 1
Four-month-old infants sometimes can perceive the unity of a partly hidden object. In each of a series of experiments, infants were habituated to one object whose top and bottom were visible but whose center was occluded by a nearer object. They were then tested with a fully visible continuous object and with two fully visible object pieces with a gap where the occluder had been. Pattems of dishabituation suggested that infants perceive the boundaries of a partly hidden object by analyzing the movements of its surfaces: infants perceived a connected object when its ends moved in a common translation behind the occluder. Infants do not appear to perceive a connected object by analyzing the colors and forms of surfaces: they did not perceive a connected object when its visible parts were stationary, its color was homogeneous, its edges were aligned, and its shape was simple and regular. These findings do not support the thesis, from gestalt psychology, that object perception first arises as a consequence of a tendency to perceive the simplest, most regular configuration, or the Piagetian thesis that object perception depends on the prior coordination of action. Perception of objects may depend on an inherent conception of what an object is.