Orienting Toward Face-Like Stimuli in Early Childhood.
Shah P., Happé F., Sowden S., Cook R., Bird G.
Newborn infants orient preferentially toward face-like or "protoface" stimuli and recent studies suggest similar reflexive orienting responses in adults. Little is known, however, about the operation of this mechanism in childhood. An attentional-cueing procedure was therefore developed to investigate protoface orienting in early childhood. Consistent with the extant literature, 5- to 6-year-old children (n = 25) exhibited orienting toward face-like stimuli; they responded faster when target location was cued by the appearance of a protoface stimulus than when location was cued by matched control patterns. The potential of this procedure to investigate the development of typical and atypical social perception is discussed.