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J Exp Child Psychol. 2009 Apr;102(4):487-502. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2008.11.001. Epub 2008 Dec 25.

The effect of inversion on 3- to 5-year-olds' recognition of face and nonface visual objects.

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  • 1Dipartimento di Psicologia, Universit√† degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy.


This study compared the effect of stimulus inversion on 3- to 5-year-olds' recognition of faces and two nonface object categories matched with faces for a number of attributes: shoes (Experiment 1) and frontal images of cars (Experiments 2 and 3). The inversion effect was present for faces but not shoes at 3 years of age (Experiment 1). Analogous results were found for boys when faces were compared with frontal images of cars. For girls, stimulus inversion impaired recognition of both faces and cars at 3 to 4 years of age, becoming specific to faces only at 5 years of age (Experiments 2 and 3). Evidence demonstrates that the ability to extract the critical cues that lead to adults' efficient face recognition is selectively tuned to faces during preschool years.

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