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Lindsey Short, Valentina Proietti, Thalia Semplonius, Catherine Mondloch; Differential Attentional Allocation and Subsequent Recognition for Young versus Older Adult Faces. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):988. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.988.
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Past studies examining the other-age effect, the finding that own-age faces are recognized more accurately than other-age faces, are limited in number and report inconsistent results. Here, we sought to examine whether attentional allocation for young versus older adult faces differs during learning and whether such differential allocation influences subsequent recognition. We presented faces in the context of naturalistic scenes that mimic how we encounter faces in the real world and manipulated task instructions such that only half of the participants knew there would be a memory test. Twenty-four young adults viewed eight scenes for 40 seconds each while their eye movements were recorded; each scene contained two young and two older faces. Half of the participants were told to form impressions of the people and places in the scenes, and half were told there would be a subsequent memory test. Participants then viewed 64 individual faces (32 novel; half young) and indicated whether each face was familiar or novel. Regardless of task condition, participants allocated more attention to young (26% of total viewing time) than older faces (21% of total viewing time), p <.001. Similarly, in both task conditions, recognition accuracy was higher for young (d’ = 1.28) than older faces (d’ = 0.60), p <.01. However, there was no correlation between the magnitude of the young adult recognition advantage and the magnitude of the young adult looking time advantage, r = -.09, p > .10. These results suggest that longer looking does not necessarily indicate deeper encoding of young faces and that the young adult recognition advantage may emerge as a function of early encoding during learning and be unrelated to subsequent attentional allocation. Older adults are currently being tested to determine if this effect is moderated by participant age.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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