An eye for detail: an event-related potential study of the rapid processing of fearful facial expressions in children

Child Dev. 2010 Jul-Aug;81(4):1304-19. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01470.x.


There is converging evidence for the presence of a fast subcortical face-processing route that operates on global face characteristics in the mature brain. Until now, little has been known about the development of such a route, which is surprising given suggestions that this fast subcortical face-processing route might be affected in neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism. To address this, early visual event-related potentials to pictures of fearful and neutral faces containing detailed or global information in 3- to 4-year-old (n = 20), 5- to 6-year-old (n = 25), and 7- to 8-year-old (n = 25) children were compared. In children, emotional processing was driven by detailed information. Developmental effects are discussed in terms of maturation of the fast subcortical face-processing route as well as an increase in experience with facial expressions with age.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electroencephalography
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Reaction Time
  • Space Perception / physiology*