Age-related changes in matching novel objects across viewpoints

Karin S Pilz, Yaroslav Konar, Quoc C Vuong, Patrick J Bennett, Alison B Sekuler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Object recognition is an important visual process. We are not only required to recognize objects across a variety of lighting conditions and variations in size, but also across changes in viewpoint. It has been shown that reaction times in object matching increase as a function of increasing angular disparity between two views of the same object, and it is thought that this is related to the time it takes to mentally rotate an object. Recent studies have shown that object rotations for familiar objects affect older subjects differently than younger subjects. To investigate the general normalization effects for recognizing objects across different viewpoints regardless of visual experience with an object, in the current study we used novel 3D stimuli. Older and younger subjects matched objects across a variety of viewpoints along both in-depth and picture-plane rotations. Response times (RTs) for in-depth rotations were generally slower than for picture plane rotations and older subjects, overall, responded slower than younger subjects. However, a male RT advantage was only found for objects that differed by large, in-depth rotations. Compared to younger subjects, older subjects were not only slower but also less accurate at matching objects across both rotation axes. The age effect was primarily due to older male subjects performing worse than younger male subjects, whereas there was no significant age difference for female subjects. In addition, older males performed even worse than older females, which argues against a general male advantage in mental rotations tasks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1958-1965
Number of pages8
JournalVision Research
Issue number17
Early online date19 Jul 2011
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


  • Object recognition
  • Aging
  • Mental rotation
  • Novel objects
  • Viewpoint


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