Murray J E, Ryan M, Ruffman T, 2007, "Age-related changes in categorical perception of facial expressions" Perception 36 ECVP Abstract Supplement
Age-related changes in categorical perception of facial expressions
J E Murray, M Ryan, T Ruffman
Recent work suggests that older adults experience difficulties in recognising facial expressions of sadness, fear, and anger, but not typically of happiness and surprise. We tested for age-related differences in categorical perception of emotion in morphed faces for two nine-step continua in which the proportion of sadness and fear, and happiness and surprise was varied. For each continuum, categorical boundaries were determined and participants made same/different judgments about within-category and between-category pairs. For the happiness - surprise continuum, the results showed that older adults did not differ from younger adults in either the locus of the categorical boundary or the ability to discriminate within-category and between-category pairs of faces. In contrast, for the sadness - fear continuum, older adults differed from younger adults in the locus of the category boundary and were less accurate in discriminating between-category but not within-category pairs of faces. This suggests that difficulties in processing emotional expressions of fear and sadness may be caused by age-related changes in sensitivity to variation between perceptual categories.
[Supported by a University of Otago Research Grant.]
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