Seeing can be remembering: Interactions between memory and perception in typical and atypical development

Goffredina Spanò, Mary A. Peterson, Lynn Nadel, Candace Rhoads, Jamie Ogline Edgin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Recent work suggests that memory representations may guide basic perceptual functions, such as figure-ground perception. In three studies we assessed top-down contributions to figure-ground perception in typical development and in two developmental disorders: Down syndrome (DS) and autism (ASD). We investigated how figure-ground segregation is modulated by high-level cues (i.e., memory representations) and low-level cues (i.e., convexity and surface integration). Study 1 results showed that both high-level and low-level contributions to figure-ground perception are functional by the age of 4 years. In Study 2, individuals with DS exhibited intact figure-ground segregation based on low level cues when compared with mental age–matched participants, but they showed attenuated effects of highlevel memory cues on figure-ground assignment. In Study 3, individuals with ASD showed intact effects of both highlevel and low-level cues on figure-ground perception, counter to previous suggestions that high-level influences on perception are usually impaired in ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-271
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Psychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Convexity
  • Development
  • Down syndrome
  • Figure-ground perception
  • Memory
  • Top-down influence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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