Monday, January 17, 2005

Developmental Changes in Face Perception - Relevance to Autism or Aspergers Diagnoses?

This interesting paper found that children under the age of 10 tend to process faces by individual features, while those older than 10 tended to process facial features more as a whole. The fact that children younger than 10 normally have a piecemeal strategy is interesting because often a 7 or 8 year old's confusion over recognizing a classmate or description of a face by its parts, may be enough to land him in a high functioning autism group. In fact, prosopagnosia is very difficult to diagnose in children, so great care should be taken to consider how normal developmental may contribute to a child's reading of faces in social interactions.

Brain Activation during Face Perception: Evidence of a Developmental Change


  1. Anonymous5:08 PM

    Hi, I am the same poster who asked about Play Attention--still no account yet! My daughter (9) has always had difficulty with recognising people. She cannot regularly pick out herself or her best friend in photos (though she is wonderful at using context to guess), she recently mistook her gramma for her dad in a photo and used hair to sort out the mixup, not facial features, and in life says she uses voice and hair to recognise her friends. She makes frequent identification mistakes and is anxious about group situations. She says faces seem blurry when she tries to remember them. I have assumed from this she is face blind. Is it possible she may have a leap in face recognition in the next two years, or is her level of difficulty out of the ordinary?


  2. Hi again! Well, what this study suggests is that is quite common that children recognize faces by features rather than 'taking in the whole'. Even with a piecemeal strategy, though most children will be able to recognize themselves and close family the possibility for faceblindness is there. You might want to have it looked into further. Many people with faceblindness don't realize that that's what they've had until they are adults. There are many compensations for this (verbally describing visual features, recognition by hair or shoes, etc), so that it might not be noticed by others. Nevertheless, if your child has faceblindness, it can helpful to teach her strategies for compensation and discuss some of the social and emotional might be helpful to her knowing you understand.