Facial expression training optimises viewing strategy in children and adults

Pollux, Petra M. J., Hall, Sophie and Guo, Kun (2014) Facial expression training optimises viewing strategy in children and adults. PLoS ONE . 0105418. ISSN 1932-6203

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0105418

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This study investigated whether training-related improvements in facial expression categorization are facilitated by spontaneous changes in gaze behaviour in adults and nine-year old children. Four sessions of a self-paced, free-viewing training task required participants to categorize happy, sad and fear expressions with varying intensities. No instructions about eye movements were given. Eye-movements were recorded in the first and fourth training session. New faces were introduced in session four to establish transfer-effects of learning. Adults focused most on the eyes in all sessions and increased expression categorization accuracy after training coincided with a strengthening of this eye-bias in gaze allocation. In children, training-related behavioural improvements coincided with an overall shift in gaze-focus towards the eyes (resulting in more adult-like gaze-distributions) and towards the mouth for happy faces in the second fixation. Gaze-distributions were not influenced by the expression intensity or by the introduction of new faces. It was proposed that training enhanced the use of a uniform, predominantly eyes-biased, gaze strategy in children in order to optimise extraction of relevant cues for discrimination between subtle facial expressions.

Keywords:facial expressions, JCOpen
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C850 Cognitive Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
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ID Code:14693
Deposited On:15 Aug 2014 10:40

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