Two processes are thought to support visual recognition memory (VRM): Familiarity and recollection. The former is generally considered to be faster. However, the relationship between the precise onset of the two processes is unclear. Here, we use a novel paradigm, the SAB (Speed and
Accuracy Boosting procedure) that constrains participants to use their fastest strategy and provides a continuous distribution of their reaction times. We show that fast recognition occurs as early as ~370 ms, a limit that appears incompressible whatever types of stimuli were used. In a second
experiment, running the SAB in conjunction with a modified version of the remember/know paradigm, we show that responses up to ~420 ms are based solely on familiarity. These time limits of 370 ms and 420 ms provide strong constraints on the neural mechanisms underlying VRM and suggest that
the fastest, familiarity-based, responses could rely on the visual ventral stream only.