Visual object recognition: do we know more now than we did 20 years ago?

Annu Rev Psychol. 2007:58:75-96. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.58.102904.190114.


We review the progress made in the field of object recognition over the past two decades. Structural-description models, making their appearance in the early 1980s, inspired a wealth of empirical research. Moving to the 1990s, psychophysical evidence for view-based accounts of recognition challenged some of the fundamental assumptions of structural-description theories. The 1990s also saw increased interest in the neurophysiological study of high-level visual cortex, the results of which provide some constraints on how objects may be represented. By 2000, neuroimaging arose as a viable means for connecting neurons to behavior. One of the most striking fMRI results has been category selectivity, which provided further constraints for models of object recognition. Despite this progress, the field is still faced with the challenge of developing a comprehensive theory that integrates this ever-increasing body of results and explains how we perceive and recognize objects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Discrimination Learning / physiology
  • Face / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology*