From birth, infants prefer looking at faces over scrambled faces. This face input is important for the development of face processing: individuals who experienced early visual deprivation due to congenital cataracts have long-lasting face processing deficits. Interestingly, the deficits are eye-specific such that left eye cataracts disrupt the development of face processing, whereas right eye cataracts do not. This raises the question of whether infant face preferences are driven primarily by faces observed through the left eye. To investigate this, we presented 3-month-old infants with intact faces paired with scrambled faces. Infants viewed the moving stimuli binocularly, only with their left eye, or only with their right eye. Infants viewing stimuli binocularly or with only the left eye spent significantly more time looking at intact faces than scrambled faces, but this effect was equivocal in infants viewing stimuli through only their right eye. Infants in the binocular group had the greatest preference for faces, and this preference was greater than the right eye group's preference for faces. The left eye group's preference for faces was not statistically different from the other two groups’ preference for faces, but additional analyses revealed a correlation between preference for faces and age for the right eye group only, indicating that preference for faces seen with the right eye increase from 3 to 4 months of age. These results indicate that the left eye plays a special role in face processing at, or before 3 months of age, but a preference for faces through the right eye emerges soon after.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the parents and infants for their involvement in this study. This study was made possible by funding from NIMH (R01 MH104324) to J. Elison. The funders had no role in study design, data collection, analysis, data interpretation, or the writing of the report.
PubMed: MeSH publication types
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