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      Three-month-olds, but not newborns, prefer own-race faces.

      Developmental Science

      Choice Behavior, physiology, Continental Population Groups, psychology, European Continental Ancestry Group, Face, anatomy & histology, Female, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Male, Recognition (Psychology), Visual Perception

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          Abstract

          Adults are sensitive to the physical differences that define ethnic groups. However, the age at which we become sensitive to ethnic differences is currently unclear. Our study aimed to clarify this by testing newborns and young infants for sensitivity to ethnicity using a visual preference (VP) paradigm. While newborn infants demonstrated no spontaneous preference for faces from either their own- or other-ethnic groups, 3-month-old infants demonstrated a significant preference for faces from their own-ethnic group. These results suggest that preferential selectivity based on ethnic differences is not present in the first days of life, but is learned within the first 3 months of life. The findings imply that adults' perceptions of ethnic differences are learned and derived from differences in exposure to own- versus other-race faces during early development.

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          Most cited references 18

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          A unified account of the effects of distinctiveness, inversion, and race in face recognition.

          A framework is outlined in which individual faces are assumed to be encoded as a point in a multidimensional space, defined by dimensions that serve to discriminate faces. It is proposed that such a framework can account for the effects of distinctiveness, inversion, and race on recognition of faces. Two specific models within this framework are identified: a norm-based coding model, in which faces are encoded as vectors from a population norm or prototype, and a purely exemplar-based model. Both models make similar predictions, albeit in different ways, concerning the interactions between the effects of distinctiveness, inversion and race. These predictions were supported in five experiments in which photographs of faces served as stimuli. The norm-based coding version and the exemplar-based version of the framework cannot be distinguished on the basis of the experiments reported, but it is argued that a multidimensional space provides a useful heuristic framework to investigate recognition of faces. Finally, the relationship between the specific models is considered and an implementation in terms of parallel distributed processing is briefly discussed.
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            Is face processing species-specific during the first year of life?

             O Pascalis (2002)
            Between 6 and 10 months of age, the infant's ability to discriminate among native speech sounds improves, whereas the same ability to discriminate among foreign speech sounds decreases. Our study aimed to determine whether this perceptual narrowing is unique to language or might also apply to face processing. We tested discrimination of human and monkey faces by 6-month-olds, 9-month-olds, and adults, using the visual paired-comparison procedure. Only the youngest group showed discrimination between individuals of both species; older infants and adults only showed evidence of discrimination of their own species. These results suggest that the "perceptual narrowing" phenomenon may represent a more general change in neural networks involved in early cognition.
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              Race as a visual feature: using visual search and perceptual discrimination tasks to understand face categories and the cross-race recognition deficit.

               Daniel Levin (2000)
              One of the most familiar empirical phenomena associated with face recognition is the cross-race (CR) recognition deficit whereby people have difficulty recognizing members of a race different from their own. Most researchers assume that the CR deficit is caused by failure to generalize perceptual encoding expertise from same-race (SR) faces to CR faces. However, this explanation ignores critical differences in the social cognitions and feature coding priorities associated with SR and CR faces. On the basis of data from visual search and perceptual discrimination tasks, it appears that the deficit occurs because people emphasize visual information specifying race at the expense of individuating information when recognizing CR faces. In particular, it is possible to observe a paradoxical improvement in both detection and perceptual discrimination accuracy for CR faces that is limited to those who recognize them poorly. These findings support a new explanation for the CR recognition deficit based on feature coding differences between CR and SR faces, and appear incompatible with similarity-based models of face categories.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                16246233
                2566511
                10.1111/j.1467-7687.2005.0434a.x

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