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Adelaide de Heering, Bruno Rossion, Daphne Maurer; Revisiting upright and inverted face recognition in 6 to 12-year-old children and adults. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):581. doi: 10.1167/10.7.581.
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Adults are experts at recognizing faces. However there is still controversy about how this ability develops with age, with some arguing for adultlike processing by 4-6 years of age (Crookes & McKone, 2009) while others maintaining that this ability undergoes protracted development (Monldoch et al., 2002). Here we tested 108 6- to 12-year-old children and 36 young adults with a digitized version of the Benton Face Recognition Test (Benton et al., 1983), which is known to be a sensitive tool for assessing face recognition abilities (Busigny & Rossion, in press). Participants had to identify 3 faces among 6 alternatives that matched the target face despite changes in viewpoint and lightning. The faces were projected upright and upside-down in separate blocks, with order counterbalanced across participants. Children's correct response times did not improve with age, for either upright or inverted faces, but were significantly slower than those of adults for both conditions. This pattern is consistent with known increases with age in attention and information processing. Accuracy improved between 6 and 12 and significantly more for upright than inverted faces, leading to a larger face inversion effect in older children. Inverted face recognition improved slowly until late childhood whereas the improvement for upright faces was largest before versus after 8 years of age, with a further enhancement by young adulthood. Together, the results indicate that during childhood face processing becomes increasingly tuned to upright faces, likely as a result of increasing experience.
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