Earlier development of analytical than holistic object recognition in adolescence

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere61041
Number of pages7
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2013 Wakui et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: Economic and Social Research Council [RES-062-23-0167]; Heidehof Stiftung [50302.01/4.10]


  • development
  • object recognition
  • attention
  • priming
  • holistic
  • analytic


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