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Perceptual reorganization from prior knowledge emerges late in childhood

Milne, GA; Lisi, M; McLean, A; Zheng, R; Groen, IIA; Dekker, TM; (2024) Perceptual reorganization from prior knowledge emerges late in childhood. iScience , 27 (2) , Article 108787. 10.1016/j.isci.2024.108787. Green open access

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Abstract

Human vision relies heavily on prior knowledge. Here, we show for the first time that prior-knowledge-induced reshaping of visual inputs emerges gradually in late childhood. To isolate the effects of prior knowledge on perception, we presented 4- to 12-year-olds and adults with two-tone images – hard-to-recognize degraded photos. In adults, seeing the original photo triggers perceptual reorganization, causing mandatory recognition of the two-tone version. This involves top-down signaling from higher-order brain areas to early visual cortex. We show that children younger than 7–9 years do not experience this knowledge-guided shift, despite viewing the original photo immediately before each two-tone. To assess computations underlying this development, we compared human performance to three neural networks with varying architectures. The best-performing model behaved much like 4- to 5-year-olds, displaying feature-based rather than holistic processing strategies. The reconciliation of prior knowledge with sensory input undergoes a striking age-related shift, which may underpin the development of many perceptual abilities.

Type: Article
Title: Perceptual reorganization from prior knowledge emerges late in childhood
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2024.108787
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2024.108787
Language: English
Additional information: © 2024 The Authors. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Institute of Ophthalmology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10186393
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