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Selective attention to facial identity and emotion in children

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Three age groups of participants (6-8 years, 9-11 years, adults) performed two tasks: A face recognition task and a Garner task. In the face recognition task, the participants were presented with 20 faces and then had to recognize them among 20 new faces. In the Garner tasks, the participants had to sort, as fast as possible, the photographs of two persons expressing two emotions by taking into account only one of the two dimensions (identity or emotion). When the sorting task was on one dimension, the other dimension was varied either in a correlated, a constant or an orthogonal way in distinct subsessions. The results indicated an increase in face recognition abilities. They also showed an interference of identity in the emotion-sorting task that was similar in the three age groups. Nevertheless, an interference of emotion in the identity-sorting task was significant only for the children and was more important for the youngest group. These observations suggest that the development in face recognition ability rests on the development of the ability to attend selectively to identity, without paying attention to emotional facial expression.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: SPMS, University of Burgundy, Dijon, France 2: CESG, Dijon, France 3: Laboratoire de Psychologie et de Neurosciences Cognitives, Paris, France

Publication date: 2008-02-01

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