Perceptual grouping and distance estimates in typical and atypical development: comparing performance across perception, drawing and construction tasks
Farran, E.K. and Cole, V.L. (2008) Perceptual grouping and distance estimates in typical and atypical development: comparing performance across perception, drawing and construction tasks. Brain and Cognition, 68 (2). pp. 157-165. ISSN 0278-2626
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.bandc.2008.04.001
Perceptual grouping is a pre-attentive process which serves to group local elements into global wholes, based on shared properties. One effect of perceptual grouping is to distort the ability to estimate the distance between two elements. In this study, biases in distance estimates, caused by four types of perceptual grouping, were measured across three tasks, a perception, a drawing and a construction task in both typical development (TD: Experiment 1) and in individuals with Williams syndrome (WS: Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, perceptual grouping distorted distance estimates across all three tasks. Interestingly, the effect of grouping by luminance was in the opposite direction to the effects of the remaining grouping types. We relate this to differences in the ability to inhibit perceptual grouping effects on distance estimates. Additive distorting influences were also observed in the drawing and the construction task, which are explained in terms of the points of reference employed in each task. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the above distortion effects are also observed in WS. Given the known deficit in the ability to use perceptual grouping in WS, this suggests a dissociation between the pre-attentive influence of and the attentive deployment of perceptual grouping in WS. The typical distortion in relation to drawing and construction points towards the presence of some typical location coding strategies in WS. The performance of the WS group differed from the TD participants on two counts. First, the pattern of overall distance estimates (averaged across interior and exterior distances) across the four perceptual grouping types, differed between groups. Second, the distorting influence of perceptual grouping was strongest for grouping by shape similarity in WS, which contrasts to a strength in grouping by proximity observed in the TD participants. (c) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.