Get access

The Moving Window Technique: A Window Into Developmental Changes in Attention During Facial Emotion Recognition


  • This research was supported in part by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (MSFHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The authors thank Bernardus Larryant for image processing, Dr. Tom Foulsham for assistance with analysis, and all the volunteers who assisted with data collection at Face Camp at the University of Victoria. They also thank the participants and their families who made this research possible.


The strategies children employ to selectively attend to different parts of the face may reflect important developmental changes in facial emotion recognition. Using the Moving Window Technique (MWT), children aged 5–12 years and adults (N = 129) explored faces with a mouse-controlled window in an emotion recognition task. An age-related increase in attention to the left eye emerged at age 11–12 years and reached significance in adulthood. This left-eye bias is consistent with previous eye tracking research and findings of a perceptual bias for the left side of faces. These results suggest that a strategic attentional bias to the left eye begins to emerge at age 11–12 years and is likely established sometime in adolescence.

Get access to the full text of this article