Infants' sensitivity to the depth cue of shading

Carl E. Granrud, Albert Yonas, Elizabeth A. Opland

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Five- and 7-month-old infants were tested for sensitivity to the depth cue of shading. Infants were presented with two displays: a surface in which a convexity and a concavity were molded and a photograph in which shading specified a convexity and a concavity. Each display was presented under both monocular and binocular viewing conditions. Reaching was observed as the dependent measure. Infants in both age groups reached preferentially for the actual convexity in both the monocular and binocular viewing conditions. In the monocular photograph condition, the 7-month-olds reached preferentially for the apparent convexity specified by shading, indicating that they perceived it to be an actual convexity. These infants showed no significant reaching preference in the binocular photograph condition. This finding rules out interpretations of the infants' reaching not based on perceived depth. The results therefore suggest that the 7-month-olds perceived depth from shading. The 5-month-olds showed no significant reaching preferences when viewing the photograph; thus, they showed no evidence of depth perception from shading. These findings are consistent with the results of a number of studies that have investigated infants' sensitivity to pictorial depth cues. Together, these studies suggest that the ability to perceive depth from pictorial cues may first develop between 5 and 7 months of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-419
Number of pages5
JournalPerception & Psychophysics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1985


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