Date of Award

8-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Greg D. Reynolds

Committee Members

Daniela M Corbetta, Jessica S. Hay

Abstract

Infants experience a gradual decline in the ability to discriminate other-species faces during the first year of life (Pascalis, de Haan, & Nelson, 2006). It is possible that this decline is due to infants distributing more attention to human faces than to other-species faces. The current study explored the effect of modifying the distribution of 9-month-old infants’ selective attention during the processing of monkey faces. After familiarization with monkey faces with successively highlighted internal features, infants showed significant preference to novel faces in paired-comparison tasks. In contrast, infants in a control group with no highlighting during familiarization did not show evidence of discrimination. These findings support the possibility that modifying infants’ selective attention facilitates recognition of other-species faces, and indicate that perceptual narrowing may work at the level of selective attention.

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