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Effect of visual experience on face processing: a developmental study of inversion and non-native effects

In adults, three phenomena are taken to demonstrate an experience effect on face recognition: an inversion effect, a non-native face effect (so-called 'other-race' effect) and their interaction. It is crucial for our understanding of the developmental perception mechanisms of object processing to discover when these effects are present in childhood. Three- to 5-year-old Caucasian children (N = 64) were asked to recognize upright and inverted Caucasian and Asian faces. Recognition was tested with a forced-choice procedure. Overall performance improved with age. However, there was an interaction between the inversion and non-native effects that did not change with age between ages 3 and 5: (a) the inversion effect with native (Caucasian) faces was larger than with non-native (Asian) faces, and (b) upright native faces were recognized better than upright non-native faces. These results show that face orientation and morphology constrain face processing in 3- to 5-year-olds. The first 3 years of life during which the brain and the environment interact are sufficient to build a face-processing system that constrains recognition.



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