Infants' perception of information along object boundaries: Concavities versus convexities

Ramesh S. Bhatt, Angela Hayden, Andrea Reed, Evelin Bertin, Jane Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Object parts are signaled by concave discontinuities in shape contours. In seven experiments, we examined whether 5- and 6 frac(1, 2)-month-olds are sensitive to concavities as special aspects of contours. Infants of both ages detected discrepant concave elements amid convex distractors but failed to discriminate convex elements among concave distractors. This discrimination asymmetry is analogous to the finding that concave targets among convex distractors pop out for adults, whereas convex targets among concave distractors do not. Thus, during infancy, as during adulthood, concavities appear to be salient regions of shape contours. The current study also found that infants' detection of concavity is impaired if the contours that define concavity and convexity are not part of closed shapes. Thus, for infants, as for adults, concavities and convexities are defined more readily in the contours of closed shapes. Taken together, the results suggest that some basic aspects of part perception from shape contours are available by at least 5 months of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-113
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation (BCS 0224240) and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01-HD042451). We thank the infants and parents who participated in this study.


  • Boundary perception
  • Concavity discrimination
  • Infancy
  • Object perception
  • Part perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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