Are there developmental differences in face processing?
This thesis examines whether there are developmental differences in face processing. Performance on face processing tasks improving steadily with age, however, there is no consensus over whether this improvement is quantitative or qualitative in nature. This research aims to determine whether children process faces in the same way as do adults and become more efficient as they get older, indicative of quantitative improvements, or, whether children process faces differently from adults and undergo a qualitative shift that can account for the observed improvement with age. The experiments in this thesis investigate whether there are developmental differences in face processing in three specific areas. The first strand examines whether children show advantage for recognising familiar faces from the internal features. The second strand explores whether children show the same difficulties, as do adults, when trying to recall the names of familiar people. Finally, the third strand draws these two areas of research together and examines how children and adults process and remember unfamiliar faces and explores how face representations change as unfamiliar faces become more familiar. In each of these experiments, the aim is to determine whether age-related differences on these tasks can be attributed to quantitative or qualitative change. The results show that when age-appropriate stimuli are used, the same pattern of results is obtained in children aged 7-12 years and adults, indicating gradual quantitative improvement on these tasks with increasing age.