The perception of moving subjective contours by 4-month-old infants

Michael Kavšek, Albert Yonas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


We investigated whether 4-month-old infants are capable of perceiving illusory contours produced by the Kanizsa-square display, first introduced by Prazdny (1983, Perception & Psychophysics 34 403-404), which tests whether a viewer perceives the illusory contour in the absence of brightness contrast (illusory brightness). Because the illusory square appears to move across the computer screen and infants are attracted to motion, this display holds their interest. In experiment 1, 4-month-old infants were tested for their ability to distinguish between a continuously moving illusory square and a continuously moving control display in which the pacman elements were rotated so that the perception of subjective contours did not occur. Data analysis revealed a significant preference for the subjective contour display. In experiment 2, habituation-dishabituation was used with 4-month-old infants. They were tested for their ability to discriminate between the illusory Kanizsa square that continuously moved back and forth and an illusory square which changed positions randomly. Although the infants did not show differences in dishabituation as a function of the habituation display, they looked significantly longer at the continuously moving display.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-227
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2006


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