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Cambridge Face Memory Test for Children

CCD researchers develop new tool to test face recognition in children. 

The ability to recognise faces is something that most adults take for granted. We don't think about how long it takes for us to develop that skill. For some individuals, like those with autism or developmental prosopagnosia (or ‘face-blindness’), telling people apart can be a struggle.

While there are good tools available to test this skill in adults, like the Cambridge Face Memory Test, up until now there hasn't been one suitable for children.

Therefore, CCD researcher Liz Pellicano and her colleagues developed and validated a modified test specifically for children known as the Cambridge Face Memory Test for Children (CFMT-C).

At the beginning of the test, children are told that they will need to memorize a series of different (male) faces. They are then given a line-up of two faces (like the pictures above) and asked to identify which face was one of the faces they had to memorize.

Importantly, the faces are shown in grayscale and don't have any hair or blemishes. Although this view of faces isn't one seen in the real world, this method ensures that the children focus on the internal features of the face – the eyes, nose and mouth – and their configuration in order to be able to recognise the face. In this way, the test specifically targets children's face recognition skills.

In the experiment used to validate the test, it was sensitive enough to pick up differences between children of different ages: older children performed much better on the test than younger children. It was also able to detect subtle difficulties in face recognition skills in a group of children on the autism spectrum. The full paper is available online.

The study showed that this is a valid and reliable test for assessing children's face recognition skills. It is freely available for use by researchers and can be downloaded with instructions from this site.

Croydon, A., Pimperton, H., Ewing, L., Duchaine, B., & Pellicano, E. (2014). The Cambridge Face Memory Test for Children (CFMT-C): A new tool for measuring face recognition skills in childhood. Neuropsychologia, doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.07.008.

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Email : ccd@mq.edu.au
Web : www.ccd.edu.au

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