Justin N. Wood & Samantha M. W. Wood
University of Southern California
How long does it take for a newborn to recognize an object? Adults can recognize objects rapidly, but measuring object recognition speed in newborns has not previously been possible. Here we introduce a high-throughput controlled-rearing method for measuring the speed of newborn object recognition in controlled visual worlds. We raised newborn chicks (Gallus gallus) in strictly controlled environments that contained no objects other than a single virtual object, and then measured the speed at which the chicks could recognize that object from familiar and novel viewpoints. The chicks were able to recognize the object rapidly, at presentation rates of 125 ms per image. Further, recognition speed was equally fast whether the object was presented from familiar viewpoints or novel viewpoints (30 and 60 azimuth rotations). Thus, newborn chicks can recognize objects across novel viewpoints within a fraction of a second. These results demonstrate that newborns are capable of both rapid and invariant object recognition at the onset of vision.