This study tested four and five-year-olds for their ability to use differences in the spacing among features when asked to pairing faces. The task was presented as a drag and drop features game which provided double reinforcement to children.
Cognitive variables were taken in consideration during the test's elaboration and spatial selective attention was measured with a neuropsychological test from the NEPSY. Because stimuli were either modified on the mouth or on the eyes according to the three levels of difficulty, the measure of perspective's variables on children's performances was possible.
A lot of children were excluded from the final sample because their performances were influenced by cognitive variables. Other children performed above chance level but were poorer than the adults. They showed the same pattern of performances for the three levels of difficulty than adults for modifications on the mouth but not on the eyes. Those results showed the necessity to take cognitive variables into consideration when interpreting young children performances. They brought us to the conclusion that both qualitative and quantitative changes are responsible for the gap between children and adults in configural processing skills.
[...] The results indicate that we have developed a task that is suitable for testing configural face processing skills in young children and adults as well. In an attempt to reflect real abilities of participants with configural processing, we tried to reduce the influence of cognitive variables such as memory, attention, motivation and executive functioning on their performances. In order to avoid memory demand, the faces were presented simultaneously. Attentional limitations of young children were taken into consideration by splitting the task into two parts. [...]
[...] Children failing those control trials were excluded as well A B C D Fig An example of stimuli used during the task: the original face (i.e., unaltered) and three of its altered versions whose vertical metric distance in the eyes area where modified by 8.88 mm ( 4.02 by 5.3 mm ( 2.4 SD) or by 3.18 mm ( 1.5 SD). Apparatus and procedure Informed consent was obtained from the parent of each child. A tablet pc (Acer Travel Mate C300) was used to display stimuli. [...]
[...] Recognizing the face of Johnny, Suzy, and me: insensitivity to the spacing among features at 4 years of age. Child Development 234-243. Mondloch, C.J., Lewis, T.L., Budreau, D.R., Maurer, D., Dannemiller, J.L., Stephens, B.R., & Kleiner K.A. (1999). Face perception during early infancy. Psychological Science 419-422. Mondloch, C.J., & Thompson, K. (2008). Limitations in 4-year-old children's sensitivity to the spacing among facial features. Child Development 1513-1523. McKone, E., & Boyer, B. (2006). Four-year olds are sensitive to the featural and second-order relational changes in face distinctiveness. [...]
[...] Face recognition in 4-to 7-year-olds: processing of configural, featural, and paraphernalia. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 347-371. Geldart, S., Mondloch, C.J., Maurer, D., de Schonen, S., & Brent, H.P. (2002). The effect of early visual deprivation on the development of face perception. Developmental Science 490-501. Goffaux, V., & Rossion, B. (2006). Faces are “spatial”_holistic face perception is supported bylow spatial frequencies. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 1023- 1039 Goren, C.C., Sarty, M., & Wu, P.J.K. (1975). Visual following and pattern discrimination of face-like stimuli by newborn infants. [...]
[...] It will be interesting to show correlations between performances in face recognition and/or perception tasks and some cognitive variables. On the other hand, the task should be administered to children of different age group to see the evolution of the perception on the eyes area and the influence of cognitive variables. References Booth, J.R., Burman, D.D., Meyer, J.R., Lei, Z., Trommer, B.L., Davenport, N.D., Li, W., Parrish, T.B., Gitelman, D.R., & Mesulam, M.M. (2003). Neural development of selective attention and response inhibition. [...]
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