12.16.2009

The (kids') eyes have it

· A visual trick opens a window on brain development.
http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/50610/title/FOR_KIDS_The_%28kids%29_eyes_have_it
Can you believe your eyes? A recent experiment suggests that the answer to that question may depend on your age.
In the experiment, kids and adults were asked to look at the same visual illusion — a picture that was designed to trick the viewer. The researchers who ran the experiment say that adults were more easily fooled by the illusion, and that the kids, especially those younger than age 7, saw the picture more accurately.

Size disguised - www.sciencenews.org
Size disguised: researchers asked volunteers to identify the biggest orange circle.
Here, each orange circle on the right is a little bit larger than the one on the left.
Misleading images usually fooled adults but not children,
while helpful images greatly aided adults but not kids.

[...] the experiment shows that what the brain does -to "see" visual context- is a process that develops slowly.

The words “visual context” refer to how a person sees something in relation to the things around it. A baseball may look large when next to a golf ball, for example, but appear small when next to a basketball.
[...]
“When visual context is misleading, adults literally see the world less accurately than they did as children,” Doherty told Science News.
As children get older, Doherty said, their brains may develop the ability to perceive visual context. In other words, they will begin to process the whole picture at once: the tricky gray circles, as well as the orange circle in the middle. As a result, they’re more likely to fall for this kind of visual trick.
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