Age-related differences in processing face configuration: The importance of the eye region

Gillian Slessor*, Deborah M. Riby, Ailbhe N. Finnerty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research suggests that older adults have difficulties with aspects of configural face processing. The present study examined whether age-related declines in sensitivity to configural face information are dependent on the face region in which configural changes occur.

Younger and older adults completed a face-matching task that required the detection of configural manipulations to either the eye or the mouth regions of target faces.

Age-related declines in the ability to detect configural changes were found when the eye region of the face was modified. Importantly, no age-related differences were evident when perceiving similar changes to the mouth region.

Taken together, these findings suggest that age-related differences in sensitivity to configural information are specific to the eye region of the face. The potential implications of these findings for age-related difficulties in interpreting social cues from the eyes are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)228–231
Number of pages4
JournalJournals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date3 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by a Sixth Century Fellowship from the University of Aberdeen and a small grant from the Nuffield Foundation (grant ref. SGS/38781) to G. Slessor.

We would like to thank Dr. Doug Martin for his comments on a previous version of this manuscript.


  • aging
  • configural processing
  • face features


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