Earlier development of analytical than holistic object recognition in adolescence

Elley Wakui, Martin Jüttner, Dean Petters, Surinder Kaur, John E. Hummel and Jules Davidoff

Background. Previous research has shown that object recognition may develop well into late childhood and adolescence. The present study extends that research and reveals novel differences in holistic and analytic recognition performance in 7-12 year olds compared to that seen in adults. We interpret our data within a hybrid model of object recognition that proposes two parallel routes for recognition (analytic vs. holistic) modulated by attention. Methodology / Principal Findings. Using a repetition-priming paradigm, we found in Experiment 1 that children showed no holistic priming, but only analytic priming. Given that holistic priming might be thought to be more ‘primitive’, we confirmed in Experiment 2 that our surprising finding was not because children’s analytic recognition was merely a result of name repetition. Conclusions / Significance. Our results suggest a developmental primacy of analytic object recognition. By contrast, holistic object recognition skills appear to emerge with a much more protracted trajectory extending into late adolescence.

Keywords: development, object recognition, attention, priming, holistic, analytic

 Wakui, E., Jüttner, M., Petters, D., Kaur, S., Hummel J. E. & Davidoff, J. (2013). Earlier Development of Analytical than Holistic Object Recognition in Adolescence. PLoS ONE 8(4): e61041.