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Olivier Pascalis"Development of face processing during the first year of life: Evidence of perceptual narrowing"

Abstract :

According to Carey, face processing involves an innate system that guides attention to faces and with experience develops into the adult «expert» system. Despite independent neural mechanisms, the processing of faces and speech appears to follow a common developmental trajectory. Infants must be exposed to faces and speech in order for development to proceed normally. Similarly, the perceptual window through which faces and speech are processed during the first year of life appears to narrow with experience; thus, before approximately 9-12 months infants can process non-native speech sounds and non-native faces on par with their ability to process native speech sounds and native faces. However, after this age infants begin to lose these abilities. Finally, a recent demonstration has revealed that the perceptual window through which speech is processed can be kept open if infants are exposed to non-native languages before the end of the first year. A similar phenomenon with faces has been reported specifically we demonstrate that exposure to monkey faces between 6 and 9 months of age facilitates their discrimination, an ability that is otherwise lost around 9 months of age. Face processing continues however to undergo changes for many years before developing into the adult system.

Olivier Pascalis
Thèse neurosciences en Décembre 1993
La mémoire à long terme chez le nourrisson de 4 jours à 6 mois
Université Aix-Marseille I

Selected publications

Asymmetry in face processing during childhood measured with chimeric faces.Aljuhanay A, Milne E, Burt DM, Pascalis O.Laterality. 2009 Jun 22:1-12. [Epub ahead of print]    
Change in background context disrupts performance on visual paired comparison following hippocampal damage.Pascalis O, Hunkin NM, Bachevalier J, Mayes AR.
Neuropsychologia. 2009 Aug;47(10):2107-13. Epub 2009 Apr 9.
Infant preference for female faces occurs for same- but not other-race faces.Quinn PC, Uttley L, Lee K, Gibson A, Smith M, Slater AM, Pascalis O.J Neuropsychol. 2008 Mar;2(Pt 1):15-26.