Depriving babies of patterned visual input until they are between 2 and 6 months of age robs them of some finer aspects of the ability to recognize faces later in life. So say Daphne Maurer of McMaster University, Canada, and colleagues, who have studied babies after treatment for congenital cataracts.
Testing revealed that even after nine or more years, the children could only recognize faces whose features differed in shape — they were still unable to distinguish individuals who had different spacing of their facial features.
As the team explains in a Brief Communication this week (Nature, Vol. 410, No. 6831, 19 Apr 2001), "these findings indicate that early visual input is necessary for the normal development of the neural architecture that will become specialized for configural processing of faces over subsequent years".
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