Using neural and behavioral constraints from a relatively simple biological visual system, we evaluate the mechanism and behavioral implications of a model of invariant object recognition. Evidence from a variety of methods suggests that a localized portion of the domestic chick brain, the intermediate and medial hyperstriatum ventrale (IMHV), is critical for object recognition. We have developed a neural network model of translation-invariant object recognition that incorporates features of the neural circuitry of IMHV, and exhibits behavior qualitatively similar to a range of findings in the filial imprinting paradigm. We derive several counter-intuitive behavioral predictions that depend critically upon the biologically derived features of the model. In particular, we propose that the recurrent excitatory and lateral inhibitory circuitry in the model, and observed in IMHV, produces hysteresis on the activation state of the units in the model and the principal excitatory neurons in IMHV. Hysteresis, when combined with a simple Hebbian covariance learning mechanism, has been shown in this and earlier work (Földiák 1991; O'Reilly and McClelland 1992) to produce translation-invariant visual representations. The hysteresis and learning rule are responsible for a sensitive period phenomenon in the network, and for a series of novel temporal blending phenomena. These effects are empirically testable. Further, physiological and anatomical features of mammalian visual cortex support a hysteresis-based mechanism, arguing for the generality of the algorithm.