Intersensory redundancy hinders face discrimination in preschool children: evidence for visual facilitation

Dev Psychol. 2014 Feb;50(2):414-21. doi: 10.1037/a0033476. Epub 2013 Jun 24.


Although infants and children show impressive face-processing skills, little research has focused on the conditions that facilitate versus impair face perception. According to the intersensory redundancy hypothesis (IRH), face discrimination, which relies on detection of visual featural information, should be impaired in the context of intersensory redundancy provided by audiovisual speech and enhanced when intersensory redundancy is absent. Evidence of this visual facilitation and intersensory interference was found in a recent study of 2-month-old infants (Bahrick, Lickliter, & Castellanos, in press). The present study is the first to extend tests of this principle of the IRH to children. Using a more difficult face recognition task in the context of a story, results from 4-year-old children paralleled those of infants and demonstrate that face discrimination in children is also facilitated by dynamic, visual-only exposure, in the absence of intersensory redundancy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*