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Br J Psychol. 1995 Feb;86 ( Pt 1):55-87.

Development of face recognition.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


In this article, research findings from studies which have examined the developmental pattern for recognition of unfamiliar faces and relevant theories are reviewed. Recognition of faces was found to improve with age from about five years to adulthood, with some studies reporting a dip during early adolescence. Two neuropsychological explanations (development of hemisphere specialization and maturational changes) and four information processing explanations (depth of face processing, pattern of feature salience, development of face schema, and encoding shift) are described and assessed for their tenability in light of reported findings. Explanations for the developmental dip are also discussed. Since these explanations failed to receive sufficient empirical support, an alternative explanation in terms of increasing efficiency of encoding is proposed.

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