September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
The resilience of face recognition to early life stress
Author Affiliations
  • Laura Germine
    Center for Human Genetic Research, Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
  • Erin Dunn
    Center for Human Genetic Research, Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
  • Katie McLaughlin
    Department of Psychology, University of Washington
  • Jeremy Wilmer
    Department of Psychology, Wellesley College
  • Jordan Smoller
    Center for Human Genetic Research, Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 198. doi:10.1167/15.12.198
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      Laura Germine, Erin Dunn, Katie McLaughlin, Jeremy Wilmer, Jordan Smoller; The resilience of face recognition to early life stress. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):198. doi: 10.1167/15.12.198.

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      © 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.

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Abstract

Individuals vary substantially in their ability to recognize faces, and these differences affect social functioning. But which aspects of nature and nurture impact face recognition? Early life stress is a likely candidate, as adverse childhood environments impact the development of many major cognitive, social, and affective functions. At the same time, evidence from twins suggests that variation in face recognition ability is due primarily to variations in genes and not environments. Here, we use a combined individual differences and epidemiological approach to directly assess whether variations in early life stress are linked with face recognition ability. We define early life stress as exposure to one of 25 forms of common childhood adversity before the age of 18. In approximately 4,000 adults, we show that face recognition ability is not significantly associated with variations in early life stress (including neglect, socioeconomic deprivation, physical abuse, and sexual abuse). Complex emotion perception ability, on the other hand, was reduced among individuals with a range of early life stress experiences. Our findings indicate that face recognition ability is uniquely resilient to variations in early life stress and childhood environment, thus ruling out domain general and process general accounts of the impact of early life stress on cognitive development.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015

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