Developmental trajectories of part-based and configural object recognition in adolescence 

Martin Jüttner, Elley Wakui, Dean Petters, Surinder Kaur and Jules Davidoff

Three experiments assessed the development of children’s part and configural (part-relational) processing in object recognition during adolescence. In total 312 school children aged 7-16 and 80 adults were tested in 3-AFC tasks to judge the correct appearance of upright and inverted presented familiar animals, artifacts, and newly learned multi-part objects, which had been manipulated either in terms of individual parts or part relations. Manipulation of part relations was constrained to either metric (animals,   artifacts, and multi-part objects) or categorical (multi-part objects only) changes. For animals and artifacts, even the youngest children were close to adult levels for the correct recognition of an individual part change. By contrast, it was not until 11-12 years that they achieved similar levels of performance with regard to altered metric part relations. For the newly-learned multi-part objects, performance was equivalent throughout the tested age range for upright presented stimuli in case of categorical part-specific and part-relational changes. In case of metric manipulations, the results confirmed the data pattern observed for animals and artifacts. Together the results provide converging evidence, with studies of face recognition, for a surprisingly late consolidation of configural-metric relative to part-based object recognition.

Keywords: development, object recognition, face recognition, configural, relational, part, geon, recognition-by-components

Jüttner, M., Wakui, E., Petters, D., Kaur, S. & Davidoff, J. (2013). Developmental trajectories of part-based and configural object recognition in adolescence. Developmental Psychology 49, 161-176.