“Newborns' Preference for Face-Relevant Stimuli: Effects of Contrast Polarity”

Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, School of Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, United Kingdom.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.67). 12/2005; 102(47):17245-50. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0502205102
Source: PubMed


There is currently no agreement as to how specific or general are the mechanisms underlying newborns' face preferences. We address this issue by manipulating the contrast polarity of schematic and naturalistic face-related images and assessing the preferences of newborns. We find that for both schematic and naturalistic face images, the contrast polarity is important. Newborns did not show a preference for an upright face-related image unless it was composed of darker areas around the eyes and mouth. This result is consistent with either sensitivity to the shadowed areas of a face with overhead (natural) illumination and/or to the detection of eye contact.

Download full-text


Available from: Teresa Farroni, Mar 23, 2014
  • Source
    • "Based on prior work on the conscious perception of fearful faces (Peltola, Leppänen, Mäki, et al., 2009) and other work demonstrating developmental changes in socio-emotional responding towards the second half of the first year of life (Vaish, Grossmann, & Woodward, 2008), we predicted that 7-month-old infants, but not 5-month-old infants, would show evidence for the ability to discriminate between fearful and non-fearful eyes. Critically, similar to prior work (Farroni et al., 2005; Jessen & Grossmann, 2014; Whalen et al., 2004), we employed a control condition in which we presented polarity-inverted eye stimuli, which allowed us to assess the specificity of infants' responses to human sclerae. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: From early in life, emotion detection plays an important role during social interactions. Recently, 7-month-old infants have been shown to process facial signs of fear in others without conscious perception and solely on the basis of their eyes. However, it is not known whether unconscious fear processing from eyes is present before 7months of age or only emerges at around 7months. To investigate this question, we measured 5-month-old infants' event-related potentials (ERPs) in response to subliminally presented fearful and non-fearful eyes and compared these with 7-month-old infants' ERP responses from a previous study. Our ERP results revealed that only 7-month-olds, but not 5-month-olds, distinguished between fearful and non-fearful eyes. Specifically, 7-month-olds' processing of fearful eyes was reflected in early visual processes over occipital cortex and later attentional processes over frontal cortex. This suggests that, in line with prior work on the conscious detection of fearful faces, the brain processes associated with the unconscious processing of fearful eyes develop between 5 and 7months of age. More generally, these findings support the notion that emotion perception and the underlying brain processes undergo critical change during the first year of life. Therefore, the current data provide further evidence for viewing infancy as a formative period in human socioemotional functioning.
    Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 10/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.jecp.2015.09.009 · 3.12 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "e h b o n l i n e . o r g Please cite this article as: Segal, N.L., et al., Preferences for visible white sclera in adults, children and autism spectrum disorder children: implications of the cooperative ey..., Evolution and Human Behavior (2015), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.06.006 with gaze directed toward the viewer has been observed in newborns between 13 and 168 h after birth (Farroni et al., 2005). A subsequent study showed that infants between 3 and 12 months of age looked longer at pictures of nonhuman primate faces in which the eyes were replaced with human eyes, as compared with non-manipulated pictures; however, this difference was not observed in newborns (Dupierrixa et al., 2013). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Visible white sclera (i.e., the opaque white outer coat enclosing the eyeball) is a uniquely human trait. An explanation for why such coloration evolved has been put forward by the Cooperative Eye Hypothesis (Kobayashi and Hashiya, 2011; Kobayashi and Koshima, 1997, 2001; Tomasello et al., 2007), which states that visible white sclera evolved to facilitate communication via joint attention and signaling of gaze direction. Therefore, we hypothesized that viewers comprised of both typically developing children and adults would show reliable preferences for stimuli with visible white sclera. However, because autism spectrum disorder (ASD) individuals have impaired social cognition and show gaze aversion, we also hypothesized that ASD children would show no consistent preference for eyes with visible white sclera. We tested these hypotheses by obtaining participants’ preferences across six sets of stuffed animals, identical but for the manipulation of eye size, eye color, and presence of visible sclera. Both hypotheses were supported. In addition to providing evidence consistent with the Cooperative Eye Hypothesis, our results also suggest that eyes and gaze serve a central role in social cognition. Furthermore, our results from ASD children have practical applications for therapeutic practices and evidence-based interventions.
    Evolution and Human Behavior 07/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.06.006 · 3.13 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "which will be tested in future research . As mentioned , in this infant study we opted for schematic rather than real faces for several important reasons . First , it has already been shown that infants ' gaze behaviors to naturalistic faces do not differ from their behaviors to schematic faces ( e . g . , Farroni et al . , 2005 ) . For instance , Farroni et al . ( 2005 ) found that infants look longer at upright faces than at inverted faces , as a function of contrast polarity irrespective of whether the face stimuli were schematic or naturalistic . Second , several studies have shown that the mechanisms involved in processing schematic faces are the same as those involved in processing naturalistic f"
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Face processing is a crucial socio-cognitive ability. Is it acquired progressively or does it constitute an innately-specified, face-processing module? The latter would be supported if some individuals with seriously impaired intelligence nonetheless showed intact face- processing abilities. Some theorists claim that Williams syndrome (WS) provides such evidence since, despite IQs in the 50s, adolescents/adults with WS score in the normal range on standardized face-processing tests. Others argue that atypical neural and cognitive processes underlie WS face-processing proficiencies. But what about infants with WS? Do they start with typical face-processing abilities, with atypicality developing later, or are atypicalities already evident in infancy? We used an infant familiarization/novelty design and compared infants with WS to typically developing controls as well as to a group of infants with Down syndrome matched on both mental and chronological age. Participants were familiarized with a schematic face, after which they saw a novel face in which either the features (eye shape) were changed or just the configuration of the original features. Configural changes were processed successfully by controls, but not by infants with WS who were only sensitive to featural changes and who showed syndrome-specific profiles different from infants with the other neurodevelopmental disorder. Our findings indicate that theorists can no longer use the case of WS to support claims that evolution has endowed the human brain with an independent face-processing module.
    Frontiers in Psychology 06/2015; 6(760). · 2.80 Impact Factor
Show more