In two experiments, visual search was used to study the grouping of shape on the basis of perceptual closure among participants 5-23 years of age. We first showed that young children, like adults, demonstrate an efficient search for a concave target among convex distractors for closed connected stimuli but an inefficient search for open stimuli. Reliable developmental differences, however, were observed in search for fragmented stimuli as a function of spatial proximity and collinearity between the closure-inducing fragments. When only closure was available, search for all the age groups was equally efficient for spatially close fragments and equally inefficient for spatially distant fragments. When closure and collinearity were available, search for spatially close fragments was equally efficient for all the age groups, but search for spatially distant fragments was inefficient for younger children and improved significantly between ages 5 and 10. These findings suggest that young children can utilize closure as efficiently as can adults for the grouping of shape for closed or nearly closed stimuli. When the closure-inducing fragments are spatially distant, only older children and adults, but not 5-year-olds, can utilize collinearity to enhance closure for the perceptual grouping of shape.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Sensory Systems
- Psychology (all)