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Infant face individuation: FPVS evidence

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While adults are very good at recognizing faces, face individuation may be challenging for young infants. Evidence indicates that under certain circumstances, infants can recognize their mother's face and also unfamiliar faces (Coulon et al., 2011; de Haan & Nelson, 1997; Peykarjou et al., 2016). However, previous studies have tested recognition using the same image of each face repeatedly, and very few studies investigate the process of becoming familiar with a face. Thus, it remains unclear how proficient infants are at recognizing faces. In the current study, we tested individuation of the mother's face and an unfamiliar face using a Fast Periodic Visual Stimulation (FPVS) paradigm. Following a 30 second familiarization trial in which an image of either the mother or the unfamiliar face was displayed, 12 different images of this target face were presented among four unfamiliar stranger faces (48 different images) in an oddball paradigm. Trials with mother or unfamiliar face targets were compared within-subjects. Images were presented at a high rate of 6 images per second (6Hz) with the oddball appearing as every 5th image, corresponding to a frequency of 1.2 Hz. We contrasted conditions where the target face appeared as oddball (S = stranger, T = target; SSSSTSSSST...) or as base stimulus (TTTTSTTTTS...). 18 infants (10 males, average age 5 months 10 days) were tested with target faces presented as standards, 21 infants (10 males, average age 5 months 19 days) with target faces as oddballs. When target faces were presented as standards, novel stranger faces elicited an individuation response among both mothers (SNR = 1.11, Z > 2.33 , p < .01) and unfamiliar strangers (SNR = 1.12, Z > 2.33 p < .01). When target faces were presented as oddballs, similarly both mother (SNR = 1.20, Z > 3.74 , p < .0001) and unfamiliar stranger (SNR = 1.21, Z > 3.74 , p < .0001) oddballs elicited an individuation response. The individuation response was strongest in harmonics 6-9 on medial-occipital channels (O1, O2, Oz, Iz). Mixed ANOVAs revealed that there was no effect of experiment (target standard/oddball, F = 2.52, p > .05) or condition (target mother/familiarized stranger, F = .07, p > .05). Thus, infants individuated faces similarly across all conditions. Together, these data show that infants are able to recognize familiar and familiarized faces across different images and at a high speed. To assess the effect of the familiarization trial on individuation, we are also testing infants with stranger faces without prior exposure to the face. This will help us to clarify the role of experience in infant face individuation.
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hal-03698673 , version 1 (18-06-2022)


  • HAL Id : hal-03698673 , version 1


Stefanie Peykarjou, Miriam Langeloh, Elisa Baccolo, Bruno Rossion, Sabina Pauen. Infant face individuation: FPVS evidence. XXII International Congress of Infant Studies, ICIS 2020, Jul 2020, Virtual meeting, France. ⟨hal-03698673⟩
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