Aging in Face Perception and Recognition

Older people often complain about weaker memory, particularly for newly learnt faces and names. In a project funded by the German Research Council (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG), we systematically examine whether and to which extent older adults show changes in face perception, face and identity learning, as well as face and name memory retrieval. In addition to behavioral measures, event-related brain potentials are used to detect potential age-related changes in the neural processes accompanying these perceptual and cognitive abilities.

Our initial findings suggest that early stages of face perception (as reflected in the N170 ERP component) are moderately affected by aging. However, subsequent processing related to face learning and remembering is more severely changed, as holistic processing and memory effects, reflected in the N250 and the ERP old/new effect respectively, are typically absent or even reversed in older participants.

Related Publications:

  • Komes J, Schweinberger SR, Wiese H (2014). Preserved fine-tuning of face perception and memory: Evidence from the own-race bias in high- and low-performing older adults. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, 6:60, 1-10.
  • Komes J, Schweinberger SR, Wiese H (2014). Fluency affects source memory for familiar names in younger and older adults: Evidence from event-related brain potentials. NeuroImage, 92, 90-105.
  • Wiese H, Komes J, Schweinberger SR (2013). Ageing faces in ageing minds: The own-age bias in face recognition memory. Visual Cognition, 21, 1337-1363. Invited Review, Special Issue “Face recognition: Effects of race, gender, age, and species” (Editor: James W. Tanaka).
  • Wiese H, Kachel U, Schweinberger SR (2013). Holistic face processing of own- and other-age faces in young and older participants: ERP evidence from the composite face task. NeuroImage, 74, 306-317.
  • Wolff N, Wiese H, Schweinberger SR (2012). Face recognition memory across the adult lifespan: ERP evidence from the own-age bias. Psychology and Aging, 27, 1066-1081.
  • Wiese H, Komes J, Schweinberger SR (2012). Daily-life contact affects the own-age bias and neural correlates of face memory in elderly participants. Neuropsychologia, 50, 3496-3508.
  • Wiese H, Schweinberger SR, Hansen K (2008). The age of the beholder: ERP evidence of an own-age bias in face memory. Neuropsychologia, 46, 2973-2985.

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