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Claire M Matthews, Kay L Ritchie, Sarah Laurence, Catherine J Mondloch; The Importance of Within-Person Variability in Appearance in Adults’ and Children’s Face Learning. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):138d. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.10.138d.
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By age 6, children recognize ambient images of familiar faces without error, but accuracy for unfamiliar faces increases between 5 and 12 years of age (Laurence & Mondloch, 2016). When memory demands are high (i.e., a face is learned via video) children require exposure to high within-person variability in appearance (HV) to learn a new face; they learn if the video is captured across 3 days, but not a single day (LV). Adults learn in both the HV and LV conditions. In a purely perceptual task, children show adult-like learning from just 6 images captured on different days (Matthews et al., 2018). We examined whether adults and children show evidence of learning after viewing 6 images captured on the same day in a perceptual matching task. Children and adults (n=18/group) read a story about three characters (targets) embarking on adventures. Along the way, they collected either 6 LV images (captured on one day), 6 HV images (captured on different days) or a single image of the target. At test, they were asked to identify novel target images presented amongst distractors, while collected images remained visible. Young children (4–5 years) showed no evidence of learning. Older children (6–12 years) and adults recognized more novel target images in the HV than LV or single image condition (ps < .037); nearly all participants showed evidence of learning. There was no evidence of learning in the LV condition. Misidentification errors were rare. Viewing 6 images of an identity across a single encounter is insufficient for learning. Viewers require exposure either to variability in appearance across several encounters to learn a new face or to more photos (at least 10, Ritchie & Burton, 2016; Baker et al., 2017) if taken from the same day. Our results have implications for models of development and applied settings.
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