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Our visual system can rapidly process stimuli relevant to our current behavioral goal within various irrelevant stimuli in natural scenes. This ability to detect and identify target stimuli during nontarget stimuli has been mainly studied in adults, so that the development of this high-level visual function has been unknown among infants, although it has been shown that 15-month-olds' temporal thresholds of face visibility are close to those of adults. However, we demonstrate here that infants younger than 15 months can identify a target face among nontarget but meaningful scene images. In the current study, we investigated infants' ability to detect and identify a face in a rapid serial visual presentation. Experiment 1 examined whether 5- to 8-month-olds could discriminate the difference in the presentation duration of visual streams (100 vs. 11 ms). Results showed that 7- and 8-month-olds successfully discriminated between the presentation durations. In Experiment 2, we examined whether 5- to 8-month-olds could detect the face presented for 100 ms and found that 7- and 8-month-olds could detect the face embedded in rapid serial visual streams. To further clarify the face processing at this age of infants, we tested whether infants could identify upright and inverted faces in rapid visual streams in Experiments 3a and 3b. The results showed that 7- and 8-month-olds identified upright faces, but not inverted faces, during the visual stream, which reflected face inversion effects. Overall, we suggest that the temporal speed of face processing at 7 and 8 months of age would be comparable to that of adults.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Journal of experimental child psychology
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