Infants preferentially perceive faces in the upper visual field

Joint publication by Chuo University and Hokkaido University.

A recent study in infants suggests that visual experience in everyday life contributes to the emergence of an upper visual field bias for faces.


(Larry Crayton/Unsplash)

It has previously been reported that the human visual system has an asymmetry in the visual field. For example, humans find faces better in the upper visual field than in the lower visual field (called the upper visual field bias for faces). The mechanisms underlying this visual field bias are much debated, but a recent study in infants suggests that visual experience in everyday life contributes to the emergence of the upper visual field bias for faces. .

In this study from Chuo University, Japan Women’s University, and Hokkaido University, infants between the ages of 5 and 8 months were presented with images of two faces, either vertically or horizontally. The researchers tested which face they looked at first and found that infants older than 7 months looked at the top face first more frequently while infants younger than 6 months looked at both faces equally. There was no horizontal meridian difference regardless of age. This result suggests that the upper visual field bias for faces appears around 7 months. This bias is specific to faces: infants were also presented with images of houses, but no bias was observed. This indicates that the face is an important factor inducing visual field bias. Moreover, infants older than 7 months preferentially memorized the top side even when they spent equal time looking at both sides of the image. These results suggest that there is a developmental change in the upper visual field bias for faces aged 6–7 months, implying that experience with faces in everyday life is related to the emergence of the bias. of the upper visual field for faces.


The infants showed a strong visual bias towards the top of the face, but not in the horizontal line (Shuma Tsurumi, et al. Developmental Science. March 27, 2022).

“Throughout their development, what infants see in everyday life changes. The experience of the spatial relationship between the face and the body (that the face is attached to the body) accumulates during development. We assume that the viewing proportion of the face-body relationship drives the upper visual field bias for faces,” said Shuma Tsurumi of Chuo University.

“Interestingly, we also found that infants prioritize memorization of the upper side,” said Jun Kawahara of Hokkaido University. “This bias could underlie our much-needed drive to find people to communicate and interact with others.”

Original article:

Shuma Tsurumi, et al. Development of upper visual field bias for faces in infants. Development science. March 27, 2022.

DOI: 10.1111/desc.13262

Funding:

The study was supported by a grant from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellows (19J21422), a grant for scientific research in innovative fields, “Construction of the Face-Body Studies in Transcultural Conditions” (17H06343), from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and a Scientific Research Assistance Grant (B) from JSPS (19H01774).

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Briana R. Cross