Two experiments assessed the development of children’s part and configural (part-relational) processing in object recognition during adolescence. In total 280 school children aged 7–16 and 56 adults were tested in 3AFC 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 and artifacts) or categorical (multi-part objects) 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 aged 11–12 that they achieved similar levels of performance with regard to altered metric part relations. For the newly-learned multipart objects, performance for categorical part-specific and part-relational changes was equivalent throughout the tested age range for upright presented stimuli. The results provide converging evidence, with studies of face recognition, for a surprisingly late consolidation of configural-metric relative to part-based object recognition.
ECVP 2011 Abstracts