Infants' discrimination of facial motion
Faces play an important part in the development of human social interaction (Kleinke, 1986 Psychological Bulletin 100 78 - 100; Baron-Cohen, 1994 Cahiers de Psychologie Cognitive 13 513 - 552). Here, we report two experiments in which we used animated averaged faces to examine infants' ability to perceive the motion of faces. The faces were computer-generated with the use of the motion information recorded from human volunteers while they spoke. We tested infants aged 4 - 8 months to assess their ability to discriminate facial motion sequences (experiment 1) and identify the faces of individuals (experiment 2) on the basis of combined rigid and non-rigid motion. Infants were habituated to one sequence with the motion of one actor speaking one phrase; following habituation, infants were presented with the same sequence together with motion from a different actor (experiment 1), or a new sequence from the same actor coupled with a new motion sequence from a new actor (experiment 2). Infants demonstrated a significant preference for the novel actor in both experiments. These findings suggest that infants aged between 4 and 9 months can not only discriminate complex and subtle biological-motion cues but also detect invariants in such displays
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