Object Recognition: Attention and Dual Routes

  • Volker Thoma
  • Jules Davidoff


The human capacity for visual object recognition is characterized by a number of properties that are jointly very challenging to explain. Recognition performance is highly sensitive to variations in viewpoint such as rotations in the picture plane (e.g., Murray 1995, 1998; Jolicoeur 1985) and to some rotations in depth (e.g., Hayward 1998; Lawson and Humphreys 1996, 1998) but invariant with the location of the image in the visual field (Biederman and Cooper 1991; Stankiewicz and Hummel 2002), the size of the image (Biederman and Cooper 1992; Stankiewicz and Hummel 2002), left-right (i.e., mirror) reflection (Biederman and Cooper 1991; Davidoff and Warrington 2001), and some rotations in depth (Biederman and Gerhardstein 1993). Second, object recognition is remarkably robust to variations in shape (Davidoff and Warrington 1999; Hummel 2001). For example, people spontaneously name the picture of a Collie or a Pomeranian both as simply a “dog” — a phenomenon termed “basic level” categorisation (Rosch et al. 1976).


Object Recognition Hybrid Model Picture Plane Prime Display Holistic Representation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bartram DJ (1976) Levels of coding in picture-picture comparison tasks. Mem Cognit 4:593–602Google Scholar
  2. Biederman I (1987) Recognition-by-components: a theory of human image understanding. Psychol Rev 94:115–147PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Biederman I, Cooper EE (1991) Evidence for complete translational and reflectional invariance in visual object priming. Perception 20:585–593PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Biederman I, Cooper EE (1992) Size invariance in visual object priming. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 18:121–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Biederman I, Gerhardstein PC (1993) Recognizing depth-rotated objects — evidence and conditions for 3-dimensional viewpoint invariance. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 19:1162–1182PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Corballis MC (1988) Recognition of disoriented shapes. Psychol Rev 95:115–123PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Davidoff J, Warrington EK (1999) The bare bones of object recognition: implications from a case of object recognition impairment. Neuropsychologia 37:279–292PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Davidoff J, Warrington EK (2001) A particular difficulty in discriminating between mirror images. Neuropsychologia 39:1022–1036PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Edelman S, Intrator N (2003) Towards structural systematicity in distributed statically bound visual representations. Cogn Sci 27:73–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ellis R, Allport DA, Humphreys GW, Collis J (1989) Varieties of object constancy. Q J Exp Psychol A 41A:775–796Google Scholar
  11. Farah MJ (1990) Visual agnosia: disorders of object recognition and what they tell us about normal vision. MIT Press/Bradford Books, Cambridge MAGoogle Scholar
  12. Farah MJ (1991) Patterns of co-occurrence among the associative agnosias: implications for visual object representation. Cognit Neuropsychol 8:1–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Forti S, Humphreys GW (in press) Representation of unseen objects in visual neglect: effects of view and object identity. Cognit Neuropsychol (in press)Google Scholar
  14. Foster DH, Gilson SJ (2002) Recognizing novel three-dimensional objects by summing signals from parts and views. P Roy Soc Lond B Bio 269:1939–1947CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hayward WG (1998) Effects of outline shape in object recognition. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 24:427–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hayward WG, Williams P (2000) Viewpoint dependence and object discriminability. Psychol Sci 11:7–12PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hummel JE (2001) Complementary solutions to the binding problem in vision: implications for shape perception and object recognition. Vis Cogn 8:489–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hummel JE (2003) The complementary properties of holistic and analytic representations of object shape. In: Rhodes G, Peterson M (Eds) Analytic and holistic processes in the perception of faces objects and scenes. Greenwood, Westport CT, pp 212–234Google Scholar
  19. Hummel JE, Biederman I (1992) Dynamic binding in a neural network for shape-recognition. Psychol Rev 99:480–517PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hummel JE, Stankiewicz BJ (1996) An architecture for rapid hierarchical structural description. In: Inui T, McClelland J (Eds) Attention and performance XVI: information integration in perception and communication. MIT Press, Cambridge MA, pp 93–121Google Scholar
  21. Humphreys GW, Riddoch MJ (1984) Routes to object constancy — implications from neurological impairments of object constancy. Q J Exp Psychol A 36:385–415PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Humphreys GW, Rumiati RI (1998) Agnosia without prosopagnosia or alexia: evidence for stored visual memories specific to objects. Cognit Neuropsychol 15:243–277CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Humphreys GW, Cinel C, Wolfe JM, Olson A, Klempen N (2000) Fractionating the binding process: neuropsychological evidence distinguishing binding of form from binding of surface features. Vision Res 40:1569–1596PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Janssen P, Vogels R, Orban GA (2000) Selectivity for 3D shape that reveals distinct areas within macaque inferior temporal cortex. Science 288:2054–2056PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jolicoeur P (1985) The time to name disoriented natural objects. Mem Cognit 13:289–303PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Jolicoeur P (1990) Identification of disoriented objects: a dual systems theory. Mind Lang 5:387–410Google Scholar
  27. Lawson R (1999) Achieving visual object constancy across plane rotation and depth rotation. Acta Psychol 102:221–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lawson R, Humphreys GW (1996) View specificity in object processing: evidence from picture matching. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 22:395–416PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lawson R, Humphreys GW (1998) View-specific effects of depth rotation and foreshortening on the initial recognition and priming of familiar objects. Percept Psychophys 60:1052–1066PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Marshall JC, Halligan PW (1988) Blindsight and insight in visuo-spatial neglect. Nature 336:766–767PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Marsolek CJ (1999) Dissociable neural subsystems underlie abstract and specific object recognition. Psychol Sci 10:111–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McGlinchey-Berroth R, Milberg W, Verfaellie M, Alexander M, Kilduff PT (1993) Semantic processing in the neglected visual field: evidence from a lexical decision task. Cognit Neuropsychol 10:79–108CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Murray JE (1995) The role of attention in the shift from orientation-dependent to orientation-invariant identification of disoriented objects. Mem Cognit 23:49–58PubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Murray JE (1998) Is entry-level recognition viewpoint invariant or viewpoint dependent? Psychon B Rev 5:300–304Google Scholar
  35. Olshausen B, Anderson C, Van Essen D (1993) A neurobiological model of visual attention and invariant pattern recognition based on dynamic routing of information. J Neurosci 13:4700–4719PubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Poggio T, Edelman S (1990) A network that learns to recognize 3-dimensional objects. Nature 343:263–266PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Posner MI (1969) Abstraction and the process of recognition. In: Spence JT, Bower G (Eds) The psychology of learning and motivation. Academic Press, New York, pp 43–100Google Scholar
  38. Posner MI, Keele SW (1967) Decay of visual information from a single letter. Science 158:137–139PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rosch E, Mervis CB, Gray WD, Boyes-Braem P (1976) Basic objects in natural categories. Cognit Psychol 8:382–439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Srinivas K (1995) Representation of rotated objects in explicit and implicit memory. J Exp Psychol-Hum L 21:1019–1036CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Stankiewicz BJ, Hummel JE (2002) Automatic priming for translation-and scale-invariant representations of object shape. Vis Cogn 9:719–739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Stankiewicz BJ, Hummel JE, Cooper EE (1998) The role of attention in priming for left-right reflections of object images: evidence for a dual representation of object shape. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 24:732–744PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Tarr MJ, Bulthoff HH (1995) Is human object recognition better described by geon structural descriptions or by multiple views — comment on Biederman and Gerhardstein (1993). J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 21:1494–1505PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Thoma V, Davidoff J (2006) Priming for depth-rotated objects depends on attention and part changes. Exp Psychol 53:31–47PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Thoma V, Hummel JE, Davidoff J (2004) Evidence for holistic representation of ignored images and analytic representation of attended images. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 30:257–267PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Thoma V, Davidoff J, Hummel JE (2007) Priming of plane-rotated objects depends on attention and view familiarity. Vis Cogn 15:179–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Vannucci M, Viggiano MP (2000) Category effects on the processing of plane-rotated objects. Perception 29:287–302PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Vuilleumier P, Henson RN, Driver J, Dolan RJ (2002) Multiple levels of visual object constancy revealed by event-related fMRI of repetition priming. Nat Neurosci 5:491–499PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Warrington EK, James M (1988) Visual apperceptive agnosia — a clinico-anatomical study of 3 cases. Cortex 24:13–32PubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. Warrington EK, Taylor AM (1978) Two categorical stages of object recognition. Perception 7:584–694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Zago L, Fenske MJ, Aminoff E, Bar M (2005) The rise and fall of priming: how visual exposure shapes cortical representations of objects. Cereb Cortex 15:1655–1665PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Volker Thoma
    • 1
  • Jules Davidoff
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of East LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentGoldsmiths University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations