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Age biases in face processing: The effects of experience across development


Viola Macchi Cassia, Department of Psychology, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca, dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1, 20126 Milano, Italy (e-mail:


In this paper, I review studies investigating discrimination and recognition abilities for faces of different ages in children and adults. Contrary to the earlier assertion that own-age faces are better recognized than other-age faces (own-age bias; OAB), I discuss recent evidence for a processing advantage for adult versus non-adult faces. This evidence is interpreted as suggesting that the precocious and continuous exposure to adult faces may shape the individual's face representation across development. Moreover, by testing how experience with faces of various ages acquired at different times in development modulates face-processing skills, this evidence shows that plasticity of face recognition abilities decreases with age, but early-acquired experience has enduring effects that impact our ability to learn from encounters with new types of faces in adulthood.