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

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 years and 80 adults were tested in 3-alternative forced choice (3-AFC) tasks. They judged the correct appearance of upright and inverted presented familiar animals, artifacts, and newly learned multipart 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 multipart objects) or categorical (multipart 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 of age that they achieved similar levels of performance with regard to altered metric part relations. For the newly learned multipart objects, performance was equivalent throughout the tested age range for upright presented stimuli in the case of categorical part-specific and part-relational changes. In the 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-176
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

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  • development
  • recognition-by-components
  • geon
  • part
  • relational
  • configural
  • face recognition
  • object recognition


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