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Newborn infants orient preferentially toward face-like or "protoface" stimuli and recent studies suggest similar reflexive orienting responses in adults. Little is known, however, about the operation of this mechanism in childhood. An attentional-cueing procedure was therefore developed to investigate protoface orienting in early childhood. Consistent with the extant literature, 5- to 6-year-old children (n = 25) exhibited orienting toward face-like stimuli; they responded faster when target location was cued by the appearance of a protoface stimulus than when location was cued by matched control patterns. The potential of this procedure to investigate the development of typical and atypical social perception is discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Child Dev

Publication Date





1693 - 1700


Child, Child Development, Child, Preschool, Cues, Facial Recognition, Female, Humans, Male, Psychomotor Performance, Social Perception