Preferential Orienting to Faces in Newborns: A Temporal–Nasal Asymmetry

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It has been proposed that newborns' preferential orienting to faces is primarily controlled by a subcortical mechanism. As an index of subcortical, extrageniculate mediation, the asymmetry between the temporal and nasal hemifields was exploited. In Experiment 1, under monocular viewing conditions, newborns were presented with a pattern that had 3 blobs in the appropriate locations for the eyes and the mouth or a pattern that had an inverted position of the blobs. Results showed that newborns preferentially oriented to the facelike pattern only when it was presented in the temporal hemifield. In Experiment 2, both patterns had the blobs in the inverted position. For one pattern the blobs were black, and for the other they were striped. Newborns preferentially oriented to the striped blobs in either hemifield. The results support the hypothesis that in newborns, preference for facelike patterns reflects the activity of a subcortical mechanism.

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