Development of orientation discrimination in infancy

Perception. 1988;17(5):587-95. doi: 10.1068/p170587.


It has previously been found by us, with a visual evoked potential (VEP) measure, that orientation discrimination of dynamic patterns in infants can be demonstrated from around 6 weeks after birth. Experiments are reported in which orientation discrimination was measured behaviourally, in two infant control habituation procedures, with both dynamic and static patterns. When dynamic patterns identical to those in our previous VEP studies were used, the first positive evidence of orientation discrimination was found at around 6 weeks postnatally. The time course of both the VEP and the behavioural measures was similar. However, with static patterns, evidence of orientation discrimination by newborns was found if the infants were allowed to compare the habituated and novel orientations in a paired simultaneous comparison after habituation, but was not found when the habituated and novel stimulus were presented sequentially. The positive evidence of orientation discrimination in newborns supports the hypothesis that some form of orientationally tuned detectors can be used for discrimination of static patterns at birth. However, some developmental change over several weeks seems to be required before a positive electrophysiological VEP response can be measured for dynamic patterns changing in orientation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child Development*
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual
  • Form Perception*
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn / psychology*
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*