Marco Tadini, Antonella Pisacane, Viola Macchi Cassia

Sensitivity to second-order relations in 4-years-old children: A comparison between faces and other objects

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Keywords: second-order relations, spacing changes, faces, cars, discrimination, preschool- aged children.

Sensitivity to second-order relations in faces - i.e., the spacing among features - has been identified as one of the most relevant aspects of face-processing skills that improve during development. However, there is still debate as to when this sensitivity first emerges, and when it becomes face-specific. The ability to use variations in the spacing of features to discriminate between faces and between cars was tested in 4-year-old children using a delayed matching two-alternative forced-choice task. Four-year-olds performed above change in both face and car discrimination even when differences in spacing were smaller than previously shown (within ± 1.6 SD). Better discrimination of faces than cars was found only when spacing cues were made more readily available (± 2.5 SD).

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