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Infant Behav Dev. 2006 Apr;29(2):210-9. Epub 2005 Nov 10.

The discrimination of facial expressions by typically developing infants and toddlers and those experiencing early institutional care.

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  • 1Harvard Medical School, Harvard University, USA.


Early experience likely plays an important role in the development of the ability to discriminate facial expressions of emotion. We posited that compared to children reared with their biological families (n=72), abandoned children being reared in institutions (n=39) should demonstrate impairments in this ability. The visual paired comparison procedure was utilized to assess the abilities of 13- to 30-month-old children to discriminate among multiple pairs of photographs of facial expressions. Both groups exhibited a normative profile of discrimination, with no group differences evident. Such findings suggest that early institutionalization does not affect the ability of 1- to 3-year-olds to discriminate facial expressions of emotion, at least as inferred by the Visual Paired Comparison Procedure.

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