Brain Sciences (Jun 2019)

Neural Sensitivity to Mutual Information in Intermediate-Complexity Face Features Changes during Childhood

  • Benjamin Balas,
  • Assaf Harel,
  • Amanda Auen,
  • Alyson Saville

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 9, no. 7
p. 154


Read online

One way in which face recognition develops during infancy and childhood is with regard to the visual information that contributes most to recognition judgments. Adult face recognition depends on critical features spanning a hierarchy of complexity, including low-level, intermediate, and high-level visual information. To date, the development of adult-like information biases for face recognition has focused on low-level features, which are computationally well-defined but low in complexity, and high-level features, which are high in complexity, but not defined precisely. To complement this existing literature, we examined the development of children’s neural responses to intermediate-level face features characterized using mutual information. Specifically, we examined children’s and adults’ sensitivity to varying levels of category diagnosticity at the P100 and N170 components. We found that during middle childhood, sensitivity to mutual information shifts from early components to later ones, which may indicate a critical restructuring of face recognition mechanisms that takes place over several years. This approach provides a useful bridge between the study of low- and high-level visual features for face recognition and suggests many intriguing questions for further investigation.