September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Development of facial expression recognition following extended blindness: The importance of motion
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sharon Gilad-Gutnick
    Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Grace Kurian
    Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, GE, Switzerland
  • Priti Gupta
    Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital
  • Kashish Tiwari
    Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital
  • Pragya Shah
    Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital
  • Sruti Raja
    Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Shlomit Ben-Ami
    Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Tapan Gandhi
    Department of Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
  • Suma Ganesh
    Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital
  • Pawan Sinha
    Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 21a. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.21a
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      Sharon Gilad-Gutnick, Grace Kurian, Priti Gupta, Kashish Tiwari, Pragya Shah, Sruti Raja, Shlomit Ben-Ami, Tapan Gandhi, Suma Ganesh, Pawan Sinha; Development of facial expression recognition following extended blindness: The importance of motion. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):21a. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.21a.

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

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Abstract

Despite her still poor visual acuity and minimal visual experience, a 2–3 month old baby will reliably respond to facial expressions, smiling back at her caretaker or older sibling. But what if that same baby had been deprived of her early visual experience? We describe the development of facial expression recognition in a unique population: children who had been treated for bilateral congenital blindness several years after birth (ages 6–22 at treatment). We find that within the first few months after treatment, these children fail to demonstrate substantial improvements in a basic expression recognition task, but thereafter begin to show significant progress. Specifically, when we probe the children’s ability to recognize expressions based on dynamic versus static information, we find that their performance on the dynamic task improves much quicker and surpasses their ability to recognize expressions from static images. Recognition of static facial expressions, on the other hand, continues to fall significantly short of control levels, even years after treatment. Our findings support the important role of motion for early visual learning and binding of visual features. Furthermore, our findings suggest that dynamic information continues to be important for learning and progressively improving the recognition of facial expressions even well after treatment, suggesting a prolonged and robust reliance on motion information late in the visual developmental trajectory.

Acknowledgement: NEI (NIH) grant R01 EY020517 
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