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Neuroreport. 2001 Jun 13;12(8):1671-6.

Eyes first! Eye processing develops before face processing in children.

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Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition, CNRS-UMR 5549, Faculté de Médecine de Rangueil, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France.


Faces and eyes are critical social stimuli which adults process with ease, but how this expertise develops is not yet understood. Neural changes associated with face and eye processing were investigated developmentally using ERPs (N170), in 128 subjects (4-15 year olds and adults). Stimuli included upright faces to assess configural processing, eyes and inverted faces to assess feature-based processing. N170 was present in the youngest children with similar patterns of face sensitivity seen in adults. Development of N170 to upright faces continued until adulthood, suggesting slow maturation of configural processing. In contrast, N170 was shorter latency and much larger to eyes than faces in children and was mature by 11 years, suggesting the early presence of an eye detector, with a rapid maturational course.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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