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Lindsey Short, Catherine Mondloch; Aging Faces and Aging Perceivers: Are There Developmental Changes in Face Space Later in Life?. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):26. doi: 10.1167/12.9.26.
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Adults' expertise in face processing has been attributed to norm-based coding, a representation that develops during childhood and may be optimized for own-age faces (Macchi Cassia et al., 2009). Here, we examined how young and older adult faces are represented in face space and the extent to which aftereffects transfer across age and sex categories. In Experiment 1, 16 young (18-26 years) and 16 older adults (62-82 years) were adapted to compressed female older adult faces. Before and after adaptation, they indicated which member of ±10% same-identity face pairs looked more normal; participants judged male and female young and older adult faces. Older adults demonstrated smaller aftereffects than young adults, p <.05, but the magnitude of aftereffects did not differ across age and sex categories for either age group (i.e., were not largest for female older adult faces), p > .10. In Experiment 2, we examined whether sensitivity to differences in ±10% face pairs varies as a function of participant age and/or face age. Young and older adults (n = 16 per group) were shown ±10%, ±20%, and ±30% same-identity face pairs and indicated which face in each pair appeared more expanded. Accuracy was > 75% in all conditions and did not differ with face age. Young adults were more accurate than older adults, but only for ±10% pairs, p <.01. Participants also rated the normality of young and older adult faces that ranged from +60% expanded to -60% compressed in 10% increments. Overall, older adults were less sensitive than young adults, p <.001, and both groups demonstrated slightly greater sensitivity to distortions in young faces, p <.05. Collectively, these results suggest that the dimensions underlying norm-based coding are most refined for young adult faces and that sensitivity to these dimensions declines in older adults.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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