In this paper, we propose a supervised object recognition method using new global features and inspired by the model of the human primary visual cortex V1 as the semidiscrete roto-translation group $$SE(2,N) = backslashmathbb Z_Nbackslashrtimes backslashmathbb R2̂$$SE(2,N)=ZN⋊R2. The proposed technique is based on generalized Fourier descriptors on the latter group, which are invariant to natural geometric transformations (rotations, translations). These descriptors are then used to feed an SVM classifier. We have tested our method against the COIL-100 image database and the ORL face database, and compared it with other techniques based on traditional descriptors, global and local. The obtained results have shown that our approach looks extremely efficient and stable to noise, in presence of which it outperforms the other techniques analyzed in the paper.