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Iperception. 2010;1(3):149-58. doi: 10.1068/i0397. Epub 2010 Dec 20.

Infants and toddlers show enlarged visual sensitivity to nonaccidental compared with metric shape changes.

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  • 1Laboratory of Experimental Psychology, University of Leuven, Tiensestraat 102, B-3000, Leuven, Belgium; e-mail:


Some shape changes are more important for object perception than others. We used a habituation paradigm to measure visual sensitivity to a nonaccidental shape change-that is, the transformation of a trapezium into a triangle and vice versa-and a metric shape change-that is, changing the aspect ratio of the shapes. Our data show that an enhanced perceptual sensitivity to nonaccidental changes is already present in infancy and remains stable into toddlerhood. We have thus established an example of how early visual perception deviates from the null hypothesis of representing similarity as a function of physical overlap between shapes, and does so in agreement with more cognitive, categorical demands.


development; habituation; looking time; preference; shape perception; shape transformations

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