Young infants readily use proximity to organize visual pattern information

Paul C. Quinn, Ramesh S. Bhatt, Angela Hayden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Four experiments relying on novelty and spontaneous preference procedures were performed to determine whether 3-4-month-old infants utilize the Gestalt principle of proximity to organize visual pattern information. In Experiment 1, infants familiarized with arrays of elements that could be organized into either columns or rows were tested for their preference between vertical and horizontal bars. The infants preferred the novel organization of bars. Experiments 2 and 3 showed that the novelty preference could not be attributed to an a priori preference or an inability to discriminate between the elements comprising the patterns. Experiment 4 replicated the results of Experiment 1 in a bars → elements version of the task, indicating that extended exposure is not necessary for infants to organize based on proximity. The results suggest that infants readily organize visual pattern information in accord with proximity. Implications of this finding for models of the ontogenesis and microgenesis of object perception in infants and adults are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-298
Number of pages10
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by NIH Grants HD-42451 and HD-46526. The authors thank Tom Banton, Johan Wagemans, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on an earlier draft, and Laurie Yarzab for assistance in testing participants.


  • Gestalt organizational principles
  • Infant perception
  • Perceptual grouping
  • Proximity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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