The Influence of Memory on Visual Perception in Infants, Children, and Adults

Sagi Jaffe-Dax, Christine E. Potter, Tiffany S. Leung, Lauren L. Emberson, Casey Lew-Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Perception is not an independent, in-the-moment event. Instead, perceiving involves integrating prior expectations with current observations. How does this ability develop from infancy through adulthood? We examined how prior visual experience shapes visual perception in infants, children, and adults. Using an identical task across age groups, we exposed participants to pairs of colorful stimuli and implicitly measured their ability to discriminate relative saturation levels. Results showed that adult participants were biased by previously experienced exemplars, and exhibited weakened in-the-moment discrimination between different levels of saturation. In contrast, infants and children showed less influence of memory in their perception, and they actually outperformed adults in discriminating between current levels of saturation. Our findings suggest that as humans develop, their perception relies more on prior experience and less on current observation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13381
JournalCognitive science
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • Bayesian inference
  • Contraction bias
  • Implicit memory development
  • Perceptual development
  • Visual perception


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