Development of sensitivity to information for impending collision

Albert Yonas, A. Gordon Bechtold, Daniel Frankel, F. Robert Gordon, Gerald McRoberts, Anthony Norcia, Susan Sternfels

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    53 Scopus citations


    Infants were tested in three experiments to study the development of sensitivity to information for impending collision and to investigate the hypothesis that postural changes of very young infants in response to an approaching object are of a tracking rather than of a defensive nature. Experiment 1 involved the presentation of three types of shadow projection displays, specifying (1) collision, (2) noncollision, and (3) a nonexpanding rising contour, to infants from 1 to 9 months of age. Avoidance of collision appears to be absent in 1- to 2-month-olds, begins to develop in 4- to 6-month-olds, and is present in 8- to 9-month-old infants. In Experiment 2, 1- to 2-month-old infants were presented with optical expansion patterns which specified collision and noncollision. The top contour of these displays stayed at eye level. No significant difference was observed between reaction to the collision and the noncollision displays, suggesting that the young infants were tracking the displays and not attempting to avoid collision. Experiment 3 was designed to determine whether an approaching real object might elicit an avoidance response in infants not sensitive to an optical display specifying collision. No evidence of avoidance behavior was observed in the 1- to 2-month-olds; however, avoidance, as indexed by blinking, does appear to be present at 4 months of age.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)97-104
    Number of pages8
    JournalPerception & Psychophysics
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Mar 1977


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