September 2011
Volume 11, Issue 11
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2011
The Organization of Young Children's Face Space: Complete Transfer of Aftereffects from Own- to Other-Race Faces in 5-Year-Olds
Author Affiliations
  • Lindsey Short
    Department of Psychology, Brock University
  • Catherine Mondloch
    Department of Psychology, Brock University
Journal of Vision September 2011, Vol.11, 454. doi:
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      Lindsey Short, Catherine Mondloch; The Organization of Young Children's Face Space: Complete Transfer of Aftereffects from Own- to Other-Race Faces in 5-Year-Olds. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):454.

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

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Adults (Jaquet et al., 2008) and 8-year-olds (Short et al., 2011) possess race-specific face prototypes; after viewing Caucasian and Chinese faces distorted in opposite directions, their attractiveness ratings shift in opposite directions (opposing aftereffects). We recently demonstrated that 5-year-old Caucasian children with minimal exposure to Chinese faces exhibit evidence for race-specific face prototypes; however, opposing aftereffects in 5-year-olds are driven largely by simple aftereffects for Caucasian faces (Short et al., 2011). These results may indicate that Caucasian 5-year-olds process Chinese faces as individual exemplars; alternatively 5-year-olds' emerging Chinese prototype may be weakly defined, resulting in their referencing both a Caucasian and a Chinese prototype when processing Chinese faces. We tested the latter hypothesis by measuring transfer of aftereffects in 5-year-old children. Adults show partial transfer of aftereffects from Caucasian to Chinese faces, indicating that they possess separable but not distinct representations of Caucasian and Chinese faces (Jaquet et al., 2008). If 5-year-olds reference a Caucasian prototype when encoding Chinese faces, they should show complete transfer of aftereffects. Five-year-old Caucasian children (n = 24) were adapted to compressed Caucasian faces; both before and after adaptation, they judged the attractiveness of distorted Caucasian and Chinese faces. Aftereffects were no larger for Caucasian faces than for Chinese faces, p > .30. This complete transfer of aftereffects suggests that in 5-year-olds, the Caucasian and Chinese prototypes are largely overlapping and that Chinese faces are not processed as individual exemplars. In a follow-up study, we are examining whether Caucasian 5-year-olds show simple aftereffects for Chinese faces and the extent to which these aftereffects generalize to Caucasian faces. This work provides novel insights into the organization of young children's face space and the potential role of experience in the development of prototype(s) for other-race faces.

NSERC, Vanier CGS. 

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