15. Continuity in Visual Perception

Scott P. Johnson, Psychology, and colleagues revealed that visual completion of a simple object trajectory—for example, the rolling ball that disappears, then reappears for infant amusement—is not functional at birth, but is developed by the four-to six-month period of an infant’s life. Learning about continuity across space and time—filling in the gaps in what we see—is a basic perceptual skill learned subconsciously. The researchers discovered a critical learning window when neurons in a normally developing visual system of a child are branching, connecting, and communicating among themselves. The neural circuits established around the fourth month enable accurate visual perception for the rest of a child’s life, and parents need not do anything special to make this developmental milestone happen.

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