Relations Among Early Object Recognition Skills: Objects and Letters

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Human visual object recognition is multifaceted and comprised of several domains of expertise. Developmental relations between young children's letter recognition and their 3-dimensional object recognition abilities are implicated on several grounds but have received little research attention. Here, we ask how preschoolers' success in recognizing letters relates to their ability to recognize 3-dimensional objects from sparse shape information alone. Seventy-three 2 1/2 to 5-year-old children completed a “Letter Recognition” task, measuring the ability to identify a named letter among 3 letters, and a “Shape Caricature Recognition” task, measuring recognition of familiar objects from sparse, abstract information about their part shapes and the spatial relations among those parts. Children also completed a control “Shape Bias” task, in which success depends on matching exact shapes but not on building an internal representation of the configuration of features characteristic of an object category or letter. Children's success in letter recognition was positively related to their shape caricature recognition scores, but not to their shape bias scores. The results suggest that letter recognition builds upon developing skills in attending to and representing the relational structure of object shape, and that these skills are common to both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional object perception.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-235
JournalJournal of Cognition and Development
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jul 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

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