Discrimination of Facial Features by Adults, 10-Year-Olds, and Cataract-Reversal Patients
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In previous studies we created 8 new versions of a single face: 4 differed only in the spacing among features and 4 differed in the shape of the eyes and mouth. Compared to the spacing set, results for this feature set indicated little impairment by inversion, earlier adult-like accuracy (Mondloch et al, 2002 Perception 31 553-566), and normal performance after a history of early visual deprivation from bilateral congenital cataract (Le Grand et al, 2001 Nature 410 890, 412 786). Here we addressed the possibility that this pattern might have resulted from our having inadvertently selected easily discriminated features or including some faces with make-up. We created 20 featural versions of a single female face and asked adults, 10-year-old children, and patients treated for bilateral congenital cataract to make same/different judgments for 120 pairings (half different). The results confirm that adults easily discriminate facial features, even after early visual deprivation from cataract, and that inversion has only a small effect. By the age of 10 years, children are close to, but not quite at, adult levels of accuracy. The previous findings cannot be attributed to our having inadvertently created a feature set that was unusually easy to discriminate.
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