Understanding Social Cognition Through Developmental Stages

The ELAB is interested in the development of social cognition. One key skill that humans have developed as social beings is the ability to recognize faces. About 2% of the population struggles with face recognition, a disorder called “face blindness” (formally prosopagnosia). Developmental face blindness is defined as the inability to recognize faces due to the failure to develop the mechanisms to recognize faces even though there is no known brain damage, and normal vision and intelligence. People who are face blind may have trouble recognizing friends and teachers, or even their parents and siblings. We still don’t know much about why face recognition fails to develop normally in some individuals, but in order to understand abnormal development; we first need to understand how this ability develops normally. Thus, the ELAB is interested in how face recognition develops in typical infants and school aged children.

For our study of school age children, we are recruiting children between the ages of 5-13 years. Children will be asked to complete various tasks on the computer that test the ability to recognize, remember, or find faces, etc. We also test object recognition and memory. Our goal is to determine how well typically developing children perform on these tasks so that we can understand the normal development of face processing. These scores will also be used for comparison to scores from children with suspected face processing deficits. We would like to determine the severity of these children’s face recognition deficits and where his or her strengths and weaknesses lie. Ultimately we hope to learn more about face blindness in kids and help children with face blindness learn to recognize faces. To learn more about our study on school age children, email elab@umn.edu.

Learn more about face blindness in children.