- We compared thresholds for discriminating orientation by 5-year-olds and adults for first-order (luminance-modulated) and second-order (contrast-modulated) gratings. To achieve equal visibility, we set the contrast for each age and condition at a fixed multiple of the contrast threshold for discriminating horizontal from vertical gratings. The minimum tilt that could be discriminated from vertical was four to five times larger in 5-year-olds than in adults, even when the noise was removed from the first-order stimuli and amplitude modulation increased to 0.90. Thresholds at both ages were significantly worse (1.2-1.5 times worse) for second-order modulation than for equally visible first-order modulation, and 5-year-olds were equally immature for both types of pattern. Together, the findings suggest that orientation discrimination is slow to develop and worse for second-order than first-order patterns in both children and adults.