The Assumptions That Blind

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Babies see the world differently than we do, a new study shows.

In fact, children under six months old are actually not easily fooled by visual illusions unlike older children or adults, the Guardian reported.

For their experiments, Japanese scientists showed a screen with red and green dots to infants ranging from five to eight months old.

Dots of one color moved upwards in the center but downward on the right and left, while dots of the other color showed the reverse motion.

Adults would experience a visual illusion when seeing these dots: All red dots appear to move in one direction and the green in the other.

To determine if infants also perceived this illusion, the team presented screens with dots of a single color either moving uniformly or in different directions.

The findings from 40 infants indicated that those younger than six months focused longer on the screen when dots moved uniformly, while older babies paid attention longer when dots moved in both directions.

This suggests that older infants perceived the illusion, while younger ones recognized the accurate color-motion combinations.

Researchers believe that this happens because information processing in younger infants is still developing and as a result, the children are making different assumptions about what they see.

“In this case, the illusion arises because the adult visual system assumes what you see in the center of the screen is a good guide to what’s happening at the periphery,” said University of Cambridge professor, Paul Bays, who was not involved in the study. Bays said the results were “consistent with the idea that younger babies have not yet built up the expectations about the world that create the illusion.”

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