Friday, June 8, 2012

Depth Perception in Infants

               Our ability to perceive depth is quite remarkable considering our retina allows us to see the environment around us in a two-dimensional image. We must expand our view beyond single points in order to determine where objects are located in a certain space. Researchers have studied the cue approach to depth perception. Distance can be determined when one object partially covers another. The object that is partially covered must be farther away than the object covering it. But, when do we develop depth perception? Are we born with depth perception?

               Researchers wanted to find out if 6-14 month olds were able to perceive depth like adults. Infants were put in the middle of a table with one side replaced by class so that the ‘drop’ could be seen. The babies were then tempted over to the other side by their mothers. Most of the infants would not even attempt to walk over the glass, suggesting that they could perceive depth and saw the drop as dangerous. Later, in 1973, a study done by Andrew Scwartz placed five and nine month olds on each side of the ‘visual cliffs.’ These infants crawled over the glass as if it were just a regular table. This is good indication that babies before the age of 9 months do not have a sense of depth perception as the infants showed no fear.

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1 comment:

  1. The concept of depth perception in infants being the same as adults is interesting, because you would think the opposite. I assumed that depth perception was something developed over time, not just after six months of life. All the time we see parents worrying about their infants crawling into all kinds of dangerous trouble, like falling over things. I think these parents, because of the study you described above, may not know what kind of depth perception their infants are truly capable of, and they understandably underestimate them. This kind of "adult" depth perception in infants also makes sense evolutionary; in order to stay out of harm, babies must have adequate depth perception.