Birth Weight Predicts Individual Differences in Adult Face Recognition Ability

Authors: Bate, S., Mestry, N., Atkinson, M., Bennetts, R.J. and Arabaci Hills, P.J.

Journal: British Journal of Psychology

It has long been known that premature birth and/or low birth weight can lead to general difficulties in cognitive and emotional functioning throughout childhood. However, the influence of these factors on more specific processes has seldom been addressed, despite their potential to account for wide individual differences in performance that often appear innate. Here, we examined the influence of gestation and birth weight on adults’ face perception and face memory skills. Performance on both sub-processes was predicted by birth weight and birth weight-for-gestation, but not gestation alone. Evidence was also found for the domainspecificity of these effects: no perinatal measure correlated with performance on object perception or memory tasks, but they were related to the size of the face inversion effect on the perceptual test. This evidence indicates a novel, very early influence on individual differences in face recognition ability, which persists into adulthood, influences faceprocessing strategy itself, and may be domain-specific.

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