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Emi Nakato, So Kanazawa, Masami K. Yamaguchi, Ryusuke Kakigi; Configural information in mother's face perception for infants. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):551. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/9.8.551.
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The importance of configural information in face processing has been demonstrated widely on adults (e.g. Maurer et al, 2002). Additionally, infants' face studies indicated that 7- to 8-month-olds have an ability to be sensitive for the configural facial information (Thompson et al, 2001.
One paradigm for investigating the configural information on face perception is the composite face paradigm, which was created by Young et al (1987). The stimuli on the paradigm were combined the top part of a famous face with the bottom part of another. Chimeric face was created by aligning both parts, while the non-composite face was the misalignment of the top and the bottom parts of faces. The finding showed that recognition on the chimeric faces was more difficult than when the faces were non-composite faces.
In this study, we investigated what facial information is effective for 5- to 8-month-old infants to discriminate their own mother's face with unfamiliar faces by the composite face paradigm. We presented a pair of mother's face and unfamiliar face on three conditions; the normal condition (non-modified face images), the composite condition (chimeric face images), and the non-composite condition (misaligned face images). The stimuli were presented for 15 sec × 2trials on each condition.
Our results showed that 7- to 8- month-olds could show the preference for their mother's face on the non-composite condition, whereas they could not discriminate between mother's and unfamiliar faces on the composite condition. These results were consisted with adults' composite face studies. In contrast, there was no preference for their mother's faces on composite as well as non-composite conditions on 5- to 6-month-olds.
Those results suggest that 1) there is the developmental difference on configural face processing, and 2) infants aged over 7-month-old are sensitive to configural information on familiar face perception.
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