ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (2): 230-236.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2017.00230

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Configural processing of faces in old adulthood

QIAN Haoyue; ZHU Min; GAO Xiangping   

  1. (Department of psychology, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai 200234, China)
  • Received:2016-02-07 Online:2017-02-15 Published:2017-02-15
  • Contact: GAO Xiangping, E-mail:


Face configuration refers to spatial relations between facial features. Previous studies have shown that the ability of face recognition in older adults is influenced by their performance in face configural processing. This paper reviews the advances in studies of age-related changes in configural face processing over the past decade. We found that researchers were mainly interested in performance at different configural processing stages and processing characteristics of different types of configural information in older adults. The consistent findings indicated that in spite of a decrease in perceptual sensitivity to configural information of faces, and that the ability to process horizontal configural information is weakened, older adults have maintained an intact ability to store and retrieve these information. However, there are still some controversies about how older adults process configural information of faces at the coding stage and whether they hold intact ability to process first-order, second-order, and vertical configural information. Future studies should find out the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying configural processing of faces in old adults. Furthermore, it is also necessary to explore how configural processing of faces affecting older adults’ recognition of emotional and social information conveyed by faces and to develop interventions to improve their performance of configural processing in daily life.

Key words: older adults, face recognition, configural processing