Neonatal Learning of Faces: Environmental and Genetic Influences

James A. Bednar, Risto Miikkulainen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Newborn face perception is controversial, but the current evidence suggests that (a) newborns follow face-like schematic patterns further than similar patterns, (b) infants can learn individual faces soon after birth, and (c) full face processing abilities develop through months or years of experience with faces. Previous models have not adequately accounted for all three types of results. In prior work, we showed how a biologically based self-organizing system and spontaneous activity patterns can explain newborn face preferences. In this paper we show that this general-purpose learning system can explain both neonatal and later learning. Using computational simulations, we demonstrate that newborn learning need not be based on the external outline, as has been supposed, and that postnatal decreases in response to schematic faces need not represent a decrease in response to real faces. These simulations provide concrete predictions to guide future experiments with infants, while suggesting new techniques for designing complex adaptive systems in general.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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