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Vaidehi Natu
Postdoctoral Fellow

Development of neural sensitivity to face identity correlates with perceptual discriminability

Face perception, which is critical for daily social interactions, develops from childhood to adulthood. However, it is unknown what developmental changes in the brain lead to improved performance. Using fMRI in children and adults, we find that from childhood to adulthood, neural sensitivity to changes in face identity increases in face-selective regions. Critically, subjects' perceptual discriminability among faces is linked to neural sensitivity: participants with higher neural sensitivity in face-selective regions demonstrate higher perceptual discriminability. Thus, our results suggest that developmental increases in face-selective regions' sensitivity to face identity improve perceptual discrimination of faces. These findings significantly advance understanding of the neural mechanisms underlying the development of face perception and have important implications for assessing both typical and atypical development.