Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The understanding of the adult proficiency in recognizing and extracting information from faces is still limited despite the number of studies over the last decade. Our knowledge on the development of these capacities is even more restricted, as only a handful of such studies exist. Here we present a combined reanalysis of four ERP studies in children from 4 to 15 years of age and adults (n = 424, across the studies), which investigated face processing in implicit and explicit tasks. We restricted these analyses to what was common across studies: early ERP components and upright face processing across all four studies and the inversion effect, investigated in three of the studies. These data demonstrated that processing faces implicates very rapid neural activity, even in young children— at the P1 component—with protracted age-related change in both P1 and N170, that were sensitive to the different task demands. Inversion produced latency and amplitude effects on the P1 from the youngest group, but on N170 only starting in mid childhood. These developmental data suggest that there are functionally different sources of the P1 and N170, related to the processing of different aspects of faces.