Age-related deficits in face recognition are related to underlying changes in scanning behavior

Alison Firestone, Nicholas B. Turk-Browne, Jennifer D. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Previous studies demonstrating age-related impairments in recognition memory for faces are suggestive of underlying differences in face processing. To study these differences, we monitored eye movements while younger and older adults viewed younger and older faces. Compared to the younger group, older adults showed increased sampling of facial features, and more transitions. However, their scanning behavior was most similar to the younger group when looking at older faces. Moreover, while older adults exhibited worse recognition memory than younger adults overall, their memory was more accurate for older faces. These findings suggest that age-related differences in recognition memory for faces may be related to changes in scanning behavior, and that older adults may use social group status as a compensatory processing strategy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-607
Number of pages14
JournalAging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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