Late development of metric part-relational processing in object recognition

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Four experiments with unfamiliar objects examined the remarkably late consolidation of part-relational relative to part-based object recognition (Jüttner, Wakui, Petters, Kaur, & Davidoff, 2013). Our results indicate a particularly protracted developmental trajectory for the processing of metric part relations. Schoolchildren aged 7 to 14 years and adults were tested in 3-Alternative-Forced-Choice tasks to judge the correct appearance of upright and inverted newly learned multipart objects that had been manipulated in terms of individual parts or part relations. Experiment 1 showed that even the youngest tested children were close to adult levels of performance for recognizing categorical changes of individual parts and relative part position. By contrast, Experiment 2 demonstrated that performance for detecting metric changes of relative part position was distinctly reduced in young children compared with recognizing metric changes of individual parts, and did not approach the latter until 11 to 12 years. A similar developmental dissociation was observed in Experiment 3, which contrasted the detection of metric relative-size changes and metric part changes. Experiment 4 showed that manipulations of metric size that were perceived as part (rather than part-relational) changes eliminated this dissociation. Implications for theories of object recognition and similarities to the development of face perception are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1718-1734
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology : Human Perception and Performance Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date30 Jun 2014
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

© APA, all rights reserved.
This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.

Funding: ESRC (grant RES-062-0167); and Heidehofstiftung (grant 50302.01/4.10).


  • configural
  • development
  • face recognition
  • object recognition
  • relational


Dive into the research topics of 'Late development of metric part-relational processing in object recognition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this