Yu GuanFollow

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Daniela M. Corbetta

Committee Members

Jessica S. Hay, Lynne E. Parker, Greg Reynolds


How infants visually explore complex scenes containing objects varying in size, depth cues, and amount of detail is still an open question. When infants are presented with a complex scene, we do not know which dimensions of the scene are more likely to catch their attention first, and which are more likely to sustain their looking duration the most. This study aimed to investigate how infants’ explore 2D displays containing different combinations of object size, depth cues, and detail.

In experiment 1, forty infants (twenty of 5 months old and twenty of 8 months old) were presented with stimuli containing different combinations of object sizes, linear perspective depth cues, and details. In experiment 2, another twenty infants (ten of 5 months old and ten of 8 months old) were presented with stimuli with the detail removed from the objects. An eye-tracker was used to examine: 1) the location and latency of first look, and 2) the look duration on each object.

Results showed that the first look data were consistent with prior studies (e.g. Cohen, 1972; Guan & Corbetta, 2012) revealing that when the objects were of different sizes, infants first directed their visual attention to the large object in the scene despite other information. When objects sizes were identical, infants directed their attention first to the object with details. Look duration data showed that the object size was also the main factor holding infants’ attention, but it interacted with object detail and background depth cues. For instance, when detail was added to the large object, infants sustained their attention longer to that object than when no detail was present.

In sum, the current study showed that object size had priority in catching and holding infants’ visual attention. However, when size was controlled, detail became the attention getter. Adding detail to the object might increase the power of object size to hold infants’ attention. Depth cue did not catch or hold infants’ attention when size and detail were present in the scene. Thus, there might be a hierarchy order between size, detail, and depth cue on infants’ visual attention.

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