Ermanno Quadrelli, Hermann Bulf, Viola Macchi Cassia

Perceptual narrowing toward adult faces occurs within the first year of life

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Perceptual narrowing, face processing, face age, infants, experience.

Within the first year of life, the face processing system tunes into the species, race and gender of faces with which the most experience has been accumulated. However, up to date, no studies have investigated if and how the face processing abilities vary as a function of face age during early infancy. The aim of the current study is to evaluate whether, as for species and race biases, the asymmetry in the amount of experience and the high predisposition to interact with the caregiver, determine a perceptual bias to adult faces. The ability to distinguish and recognize adult and newborn faces has been examined in 4- and 9-month-old infants. Results show that 4-month-olds discriminate both adult and newborn faces, while 9-month-olds can distinguish adult but not newborn faces. These results suggest the existence of a perceptual attunement to adult faces between the ages of 4 and 9 months.

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