September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
Orientation biases for facial emotion recognition in early childhood and adulthood
Author Affiliations
  • Jamie Schmidt
    Department of Psychology, College of Math and Science, North Dakota State University
  • Benjamin Balas
    Department of Psychology, College of Math and Science, North Dakota State University Center for Visual and Cognitive Neuroscience, North Dakota State University
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 135. doi:10.1167/15.12.135
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      Jamie Schmidt, Benjamin Balas; Orientation biases for facial emotion recognition in early childhood and adulthood. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):135. doi: 10.1167/15.12.135.

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

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Face recognition in adults relies on information in specific spatial frequency and orientation subbands. Depending on the task, adults will perform better or worse based on what information is present in face images. An example of such an information bias is adults’ reliance on horizontal orientation energy for recognition; adults are generally able to recognize a face when horizontal information is retained and have substantial difficulty identifying a face when primarily vertical information is presented. While several recent studies have demonstrated various ways that horizontal orientation energy contributes to adult face processing, there have been as yet no studies describing how this bias emerges developmentally. Currently, we recruited participants between the ages of 5 and 6-years-old (N=16) to perform a simple emotion categorization task using face images with either primarily horizontal orientation energy, primarily vertical orientation energy, or both orientation subbands. A group of adults (N=18) were also run through the same task to determine the extent to which horizontal and vertical orientation energy contributed to recognition as a function of age. Specifically, we wished to determine if an adult-like bias for horizontal orientation energy is present early in childhood, or if this bias develops over the course of middle childhood. Our results demonstrated that both groups exhibited a horizontal orientation energy bias, though this bias differed as a function of age. Both groups were better able to classify facial emotion when horizontal features were retained than when only vertical features were available. However, children performed at chance when presented with vertically-filtered images, apparently unable to use sub-optimal features for emotion recognition. By comparison, adults’ performance was worse for vertically-filtered images, but still well above chance levels. We therefore propose that one feature of visual development may be the capability to use sub-optimal or weakly diagnostic information to support recognition.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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