Affiliations: University of London, UK | London South Bank University, UK | University of Oxford, UK | Birkbeck, University of London, UK
Note:  Address for correspondence: Emily Farran, Psychology and Human Development, Institute of Education, 25 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA, UK. E-mail: [email protected]
Abstract: Grouping by luminance and shape similarity has previously been demonstrated in neonates and at 4 months, respectively. By contrast, grouping by proximity has hitherto not been investigated in infancy. This is also the first study to chart the developmental emergence of perceptual grouping longitudinally. Sixty-one infants were presented with a matrix of local stimuli grouped horizontally or vertically by luminance, shape or proximity at 2, 4, and 6 months. Infants were exposed to each set of stimuli for three presentation durations. Grouping was demonstrated for luminance similarity at the earliest testing age, 2 months, by shape similarity at 4 months, but was not observed for grouping by proximity. Grouping by shape similarity showed a distinctive pattern of grouping ability across exposure durations, which reflected familiarity preferences followed by novelty preferences. This remained stable across age. No link was found between the emergence of perceptual grouping ability and the exposure duration required to elicit grouping. We conclude by stressing the importance of longitudinal studies of infant development in furthering our understanding of human cognition, rather than relying on assumptions from the adult endstate.