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Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2014 Apr;8:144-52. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2013.09.005. Epub 2013 Oct 18.

Infants' experience-dependent processing of male and female faces: insights from eye tracking and event-related potentials.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Amherst, MA, USA; Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Division of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; Yale Child Study Center, New Haven, CT, USA.
  • 2Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Division of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.
  • 3Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
  • 4Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Division of Developmental Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; Departments of Pediatrics and Neuroscience, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; Harvard Center on the Developing Child, Cambridge, MA, USA. Electronic address: Charles.nelson@childrens.harvard.edu.

Abstract

The goal of the present study was to investigate infants' processing of female and male faces. We used an event-related potential (ERP) priming task, as well as a visual-paired comparison (VPC) eye tracking task to explore how 7-month-old "female expert" infants differed in their responses to faces of different genders. Female faces elicited larger N290 amplitudes than male faces. Furthermore, infants showed a priming effect for female faces only, whereby the N290 was significantly more negative for novel females compared to primed female faces. The VPC experiment was designed to test whether infants could reliably discriminate between two female and two male faces. Analyses showed that infants were able to differentiate faces of both genders. The results of the present study suggest that 7-month olds with a large amount of female face experience show a processing advantage for forming a neural representation of female faces, compared to male faces. However, the enhanced neural sensitivity to the repetition of female faces is not due to the infants' inability to discriminate male faces. Instead, the combination of results from the two tasks suggests that the differential processing for female faces may be a signature of expert-level processing.

Copyright © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS:

Event-related potentials; Experience; Eye-tracking; Face processing; Infants

PMID:
24200421
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3960339
[Available on 2015/4/1]
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