Category-specific face prototypes are emerging, but not yet mature, in 5-year-old children
Short, Lindsey A.
Mondloch, Catherine J.
MetadataShow full item record
Adults’ expertise in face recognition has been attributed to norm-based coding. Moreover, adults possess separable norms for a vari-ety of face categories (e.g., race, sex, age) that appear to enhancerecognition by reducing redundancy in the information shared byfaces and ensuring that only relevant dimensions are used toencode faces from a given category. Although 5-year-old childrenprocess own-race faces using norm-based coding, little is knownabout the organization and refinement of their face space. The cur-rent study investigated whether 5-year-olds rely on category-spe-cific norms and whether experience facilitates the development ofdissociable face prototypes. In Experiment 1, we examinedwhether Chinese 5-year-olds show race-contingent opposing after-effects and the extent to which aftereffects transfer across face raceamong Caucasian and Chinese 5-year-olds. Both participant racesshowed partial transfer of aftereffects across face race; however,there was no evidence for race-contingent opposing aftereffects.To examine whether experience facilitates the development of cat-egory-specific prototypes, we investigated whether race-contin-gent aftereffects are present among Caucasian 5-year-olds withabundant exposure to Chinese faces (Experiment 2) and thentested separate groups of 5-year-olds with two other categorieswith which they have considerable experience: sex (male/femalefaces) and age (adult/child faces) (Experiment 3). Across all threecategories, 5-year-olds showed no category-contingent opposingaftereffects. These results demonstrate that 5 years of age is a stagecharacterized by minimal separation in the norms and associated oding dimensions used for faces from different categories andsuggest that refinement of the mechanisms that underlie expertface processing occurs throughout childhood.