Justin N. Wood
University of Southern California
Understanding how the brain learns to recognize objects is one of the ultimate goals in the cognitive sciences. To date, however, we have not yet characterized the environmental factors that cause object recognition to emerge in the newborn brain. Here, I present the results of a high-throughput controlled-rearing experiment that examined whether the development of object recognition requires experience with temporally smooth visual objects. When newborn chicks (Gallus gallus) were raised with virtual objects that moved smoothly over time, the chicks developed accurate color recognition, shape recognition, and color-shape binding abilities. In contrast, when newborn chicks were raised with virtual objects that moved non-smoothly over time, the chicks’ object recognition abilities were severely impaired. These results provide evidence for a ‘‘smoothness constraint” on newborn object recognition. Experience with temporally smooth objects facilitates the development of object recognition.