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Rebecca Von Der Heide, Michael Wenger, Rick Gilmore, Matthew Walsh, Brianna Sullivan, Jennifer Bittner; Developmental changes in the capacity to process faces. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):214. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.214.
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The ability to correctly recognize a face is a skill that develops with age. Children are slower and less accurate at recognizing faces and do not appear to reach adult levels until some point between adolescence and adulthood. There is evidence to suggest that this gradual improvement in the ability to recognize faces with age is a quantitative rather than qualitative change and could be indicative of an in increase in processing capacity (Itier & Taylor,2004). Unfortunately, definitions of processing capacity in the literature are relatively imprecise, and the statistical measures used to test hypotheses regarding changes in capacity are rarely linked to theoretical definitions. The present study defines processing capacity as the way the perceptual system performs across changes in workload, at the level of the hazard function of the response time distribution (Townsend & Ashby,1978; Townsend & Nozawa,1995; Townsend & Wenger,2004; Wenger & Townsend,2000).Use of this measure in studies of facial perception in adults has shown that the major distinctions between the processing of configural and non-configural stimuli occur at the level of processing capacity (Ingvalson & Wenger, 2005; Wenger & Townsend, 2006). The present study uses the same framework to study developmental differences in the capacity to process changes in featural and configural information in upright and inverted faces. Experiment 1 is the first study to employ the aforementioned measures of processing capacity in a sample of children. Results indicate that these measures can be used successfully with children ages 6 years or older.
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