Perceptual narrowing continues throughout childhood: Evidence from specialization of face processing

Marissa Hartston, Tal Lulav-Bash, Yael Goldstein-Marcusohn, Galia Avidan, Bat Sheva Hadad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Face recognition shows a long trajectory of development and is known to be closely associated with the development of social skills. However, it is still debated whether this long trajectory is perceptually based and what the role is of experience-based refinements of face representations throughout development. We examined the effects of short and long-term experienced stimulus history on face processing, using regression biases of face representations towards the experienced mean. Children and adults performed same–different judgments in a serial discrimination task where two consecutive faces were drawn from a distribution of morphed faces. The results show that face recognition continues to improve after 9 years of age, with more pronounced improvements for own-race faces. This increased narrowing with age is also indicated by similar use of stimulus statistics for own-race and other-race faces in children, contrary to the different use of the overall stimulus history for these two face types in adults. Increased face proficiency in adulthood renders the perceptual system less tuned to other-race face statistics. Altogether, the results demonstrate associations between levels of specialization and the extent to which perceptual representations become narrowly tuned with age.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105964
JournalJournal of Experimental Child Psychology
StatePublished - Sep 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Inc.


  • Bayesian perception
  • Contextual effects
  • Face processing
  • Other-race effect
  • Perceptual biases
  • Perceptual development
  • Regression to the mean

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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