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Early Experience Predicts Later Plasticity for Face Processing: Evidence for the Reactivation of Dormant Effects

Viola Macchi Cassia, Dana Kuefner, Marta Picozzi and Elena Vescovo
Psychological Science
Vol. 20, No. 7 (July 2009), pp. 853-859
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40575109
Page Count: 7
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Early Experience Predicts Later Plasticity for Face Processing: Evidence for the Reactivation of Dormant Effects
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Abstract

Research has shown that experience acquired in infancy dramatically affects face-discrimination abilities. Yet much less is known about whether face processing retains any flexibility after the 1st year of life. Here, we show that early experience with an individual infant face can modulate the recognition performance of 3-year-old children and the perceptual processes they use to recognize infant faces (Experiment 1). Similar experience acquired in adulthood does not produce measurable effects (Experiment 2). We also show that the effects of early-acquired experience with an infant face become dormant during development in the absence of continued experience (Experiment 3) and can be reactivated in adulthood by reexposure to the original experience (Experiment 2). Overall, the results indicate that early experience can preserve the faceprocessing system from the loss of plasticity that would otherwise take place between childhood and adulthood.

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