Part perception in infancy: Sensitivity to the short-cut rule

Ramesh S. Bhatt, Angela Hayden, Ashley Kangas, Nicole Zieber, Jane E. Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Research indicates that object perception involves the decomposition of images into parts. A critical principle that governs part decomposition by adults is the short-cut rule, which states that, all else being equal, the visual system parses objects using the shortest possible cuts. We examined whether 6.5-month-olds' parsing of images also follows the short-cut rule. Infants in the experimental conditions were habituated to cross shapes and then tested for their preference between segregated patterns produced using long cuts versus short cuts. Infants in the control conditions were directly tested with the segregated patterns. Infants in the experimental conditions exhibited a greater novelty preference for the long-cut over the short-cut patterns than did those in the control conditions, thereby indicating that they are more likely to segregate cross shapes using short cuts rather than long cuts. This sensitivity to the short-cut rule was evident when two alternative parameters, part area and protrusion, were controlled in Experiments 1 and 2, respectively. Thus, a critical principle that governs part segregation in adulthood is operational by 6.5 months of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1070-1078
Number of pages9
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD042451, HD052724).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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