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The role of motion and speech in face recognition at birth

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Newborns, a few hours after birth, already encounter many different faces, talking or silently moving. How do they process these faces and which cues are important in early face recognition? In a series of six experiments, newborns were familiarized with an unfamiliar face in different contexts (photographs, talking, silently moving, and with only external movements of the head with speech sound). At test, they saw the familiar and a new faces either in photographs, silently moving, or talking. A novelty preference was evidenced at test when photographs were presented in the two phases. This result supports those already evidenced in several studies. A familiarity preference appeared only when the face was seen talking in the familiarization phase and in a photograph or talking again at test. This suggests that the simultaneous presence of speech sound, and rigid and nonrigid movements present in a talking face enhances recognition of interactive faces at birth.

Keywords: Face recognition; Motion; Natural settings; Newborn; Speech

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Paris Descartes University and CNRS, France

Publication date: 2011-10-01

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