Fitting the child's mind to the world

adaptive norm-based coding of facial identity in 8-year-olds

Mayu Nishimura, Daphne Maurer*, Linda Jeffery, Elizabeth Pellicano, Gillian Rhodes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

44 Citations (Scopus)


In adults, facial identity is coded by opponent processes relative to an average face or norm, as evidenced by the face identity aftereffect: adapting to a face biases perception towards the opposite identity, so that a previously neutral face (e.g. the average) resembles the identity of the computationally opposite face. We investigated whether children as young as 8 use adaptive norm-based coding to represent faces, a question of interest because 8-year-olds are less accurate than adults at recognizing faces and do not show the adult neural markers of face expertise. We found comparable face identity aftereffects in 8-year-olds and adults: perception of identity in both groups shifted in the direction predicted by norm-based coding. This finding suggests that, by 8 years of age, the adaptive computational mechanisms used to code facial identity are like those of adults and hence that children's immaturities in face processing arise from another source.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)620-627
Number of pages8
JournalDevelopmental Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes

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