July 2013
Volume 13, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2013
Emergence of face-localization abilities following extended congenital blindness
Author Affiliations
    Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
    Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
    Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
    Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT
Journal of Vision July 2013, Vol.13, 23. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.23
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      TAPAN GANDHI, AMY KALIA, GARGA CHATTERJEE, PAWAN SINHA; Emergence of face-localization abilities following extended congenital blindness. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):23. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.23.

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

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The human visual system is remarkably adept at localizing faces in complex natural scenes. It is unclear whether this skill has innate roots or is acquired through visual experience. Operational challenges involved in working with newborn infants make this a difficult issue to address definitively. Here we explore this question in the context of late sight onset. Project Prakash has provided us with an opportunity to work with individuals deprived of pattern vision since birth. We tested face localization skills of ten newly sighted children, ranging in age from 8 to 23 years. Subjects were presented with three versions of the face-localization task in complex natural scenes. The three conditions corresponded to 1. Faces shown with bodies, 2. Full heads, and 3. Only the internal facial features. We found that the newly-sighted children showed poor face localization immediately after sight onset, favoring an empirical, rather than nativist, account of skill acquisition. Furthermore, longitudinal assessment of performance showed that bodies and external head contours were important cues over the early course of this developmental trajectory. These results suggest that plasticity for face learning is preserved even late in childhood. Furthermore, the pattern of performance observed across the three different stimulus conditions has implications for understanding the mechanisms that subserve face-learning soon after sight onset.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013


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