Newborns' discrimination of chromatic from achromatic stimuli
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Two experiments assessed newborns' ability to discriminate chromatic from achromatic stimuli. In Experiment 1, newborns differentiated gray from green, from yellow, and from red: For each of these hues they preferred chromatic-and-gray checkerboards over gray squares matched in mean luminance, even though the luminance of the gray checks was varied systematically over a wide range so as to minimize nonchromatic cues. However, newborns showed no evidence of differentiating gray from blue: At some luminances they showed no preference for a blue-and-gray checkerboard over a gray square. In Experiment 2, newborns differentiated red from gray but appeared not to differentiate blue from gray: Following habituation to a series of gray squares of varying luminance, they looked longer at a red square than at a gray square of novel luminance but showed no such pattern of recovery to a blue square. The results imply that newborns have some, albeit limited, ability to discriminate chromatic from achromatic stimuli and hence, that they are at least dichromats.
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