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Annu Rev Psychol. 1996;47:431-59.

Origins and early development of perception, action, and representation.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville 22903, USA.


Research relevant to the origins and early development of two functionally dissociable perceptual systems is summarized. One system is concerned with the perceptual control and guidance of actions, the other with the perception and recognition of objects and events. perceptually controlled actions function in real time and are modularly organized. Infants perceive where they are and what they are doing. By contrast, research on object recognition suggests that even young infants represent some of the defining features and physical constraints that specify the identity and continuity of objects. Different factors contribute to developmental changes within the two systems; it is difficult to generalize from one response system to another; and neither perception, action, nor representation qualifies as ontogenetically privileged. All three processes develop from birth as a function of intrinsic processing constraints and experience.

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