Effects of age on face perception: Reduced eye region discrimination ability but intact holistic processing

Citation:

Regan Fry, James Tanaka, Sarah Cohan, Jeremy Wilmer, Laura Germine, and Joseph DeGutis. 9/13/2021. “Effects of age on face perception: Reduced eye region discrimination ability but intact holistic processing.” PsyArXiv. Publisher's Version

Abstract:

While age-related decline in face recognition memory is well established, the degree of decline in face perceptual abilities across the lifespan and their underlying mechanisms are incompletely characterized. In the current study, using the part-whole task, we sought to examine how age relates to facial feature discrimination ability and holistic face processing in a large sample of 3,341 online participants aged 18-69 years. We evaluated performance on the part-whole eye and mouth trials and the magnitude of the part-whole holistic advantage across the lifespan. We found that while discrimination of the eye region decreased beginning in the 50s, both mouth discrimination accuracy and the magnitude of the holistic advantage were stable with age. When investigating gender differences, we found that age-related declines in eye region accuracy were more pronounced in men than women, but this was not true for mouth accuracy or holistic processing. We discuss potential mechanistic explanations for this eye region-specific aging effect, including age-related hearing loss and its potential relationship with the age-related positivity effect.
Last updated on 01/19/2022