Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception Institut Neurosciences Cognition Université Paris Descartes Centre National de Recherche Scientifique
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Baby Lab

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Hemispheric asymmetries in visual pattern processing in infancy

A right hemisphere advantage was observed in a previous study of 4- to 9-month old infants presented with a face discrimination task (de Schonen & Mathivet, 1990). The present study was designed to investigate pattern processing by the two hemispheres and the interhemispheric communication of this processing. Infants aged 4 to 9 months were tested with divided visual field presentations in one or two discrimination tasks. Under both task conditions, the infants had to discriminate between two patterns in which only two local components differed. Under one condition the components of the patterns were arranged so as to produce a face-like pattern. Under the other condition the same components were arranged into arbitrary patterns that were not "good form" patterns. No performance asymmetry was observed with the arbitrary patterns; whereas, a right hemisphere (RH) disadvantage was observed with the face-like patterns compared with both the RH performances on the arbitary patterns and the left hemisphere (LH) performances on the face-like patterns. These results show that the RH advantage for individual face recognition is not due to a general immaturity or inability of the LH in pattern processing at this period of development, nor to a more specific inability in a local mode of pattern processing. On the other hand, the RH does not completely lack local processing capacity, but is at a disadvantage when this local mode of processing has to be used with face-like (or good form) patterns. The interhemispheric communication of visual discrimination learning was tested by measuring learning transfer between the visual fields. Contrary to de Schonen and Bry's study (1987) on faceness recognition, no data in favor of interhemispheric communication were recorded in the present study.



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