Children are sensitive to averted eyes at the earliest stage of gaze processing

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Event-related responses to a face with forward gaze or averted gaze (gaze task) and two equiluminous mosaic images (mosaic task) were recorded from healthy children aged 8–12 years and adults, using MEG and EEG. In children, a clear occipito-temporal magnetic field activity (P1m, around 140 ms) was observed bilaterally, and the right P1m amplitude was increased when viewing a face with averted gaze compared with that when viewing a face with forward gaze. This effect was not observed in adults. Furthermore, the source for the right P1m in children in the gaze task was mainly located around the putative human MT/V5 area. These data suggest that the early occipito-temporal brain response observed as the P1m is a gaze-sensitive component in children.

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