Emergence of global shape processing continues through adolescence

K. Suzanne Scherf, Marlene Behrmann, Ruth Kimchi, Beatriz Luna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


The developmental trajectory of perceptual organization in humans is unclear. This study investigated perceptual grouping abilities across a wide age range (8-30 years) using a classic compound letter global/local (GL) task and a more fine-grained microgenetic prime paradigm (MPP) with both few- and many-element hierarchical displays. In the GL task, contrary to adults, both children and adolescents exhibited a classic local bias. In the MPP, all 3 age groups evinced a bias to individuate the few-element displays; however, the ability to encode the global shape of the many-element displays at the short prime durations increased with age. These results indicate that the full process of garnering shape information from perceptual grouping, which is essential for the ability to do fast and efficient object recognition and identification, develops late into adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)162-177
Number of pages16
JournalChild development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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