August 2010
Volume 10, Issue 7
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2010
Psychophysics of face processing in childhood: A developmental perspective
Author Affiliations
  • Al Yonas
    Child Psychology, University of Minnesota
  • Sherryse Corrow
    Child Psychology, University of Minnesota
  • Garga Chatterjee
    Psychology, Harvard University
  • Ken Nakayama
    Psychology, Harvard University
Journal of Vision August 2010, Vol.10, 577. doi:
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      Al Yonas, Sherryse Corrow, Garga Chatterjee, Ken Nakayama; Psychophysics of face processing in childhood: A developmental perspective. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):577.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Developmental prosopagnosia is an impaired ability to recognize familiar faces which is present at an early age. To better understand this condition, we examined the development of face processing abilities in normal children. Methods:Seven and ten-year-old children completed three tasks. Short-Term-Memory-Span for Faces: Participants were presented with a target face and then asked to select that face from a line-up of three faces. This test used a staircase method to determine the maximum number of faces that could be successfully recognized by the child. Perceptual Similarities: A target face was presented and children were asked to sort 6 faces based on their similarity to a target face, a task with minimal memory demands. Attractiveness: Children ordered 8 female faces from most attractive to least attractive. Results: 1. Significant improvement with age in memory span for faces. Average span went from 1.78 in 7-year-old children to 2.09 in 10-year-old children. (p=0.018) 2. Significant increase in ability to judge the similarity between faces with age. (p<0.001) 3. Little improvement in attractiveness judgments over the age range studied. 4. A regression analysis examining the contributions of age, memory span, and similarities on working memory performance suggests that performance on the similarity task was the strongest predictor of memory for faces while age contributes less variance to the prediction. 5. Judgments of attractiveness correlated little with performance of the two other tests and with age. Discussion:These results suggest that memory for faces and judgments of the similarity of faces share common perceptual process while judgments of attractiveness require attention to properties that are not required for the identification of an individual face.

Yonas, A. Corrow, S. Chatterjee, G. Nakayama, K. (2010). Psychophysics of face processing in childhood: A developmental perspective [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 10(7):577, 577a,, doi:10.1167/10.7.577. [CrossRef]
 NIH Grant # EY013602, KN, AY.

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