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Stanford researchers find that kids see words and faces differently from adults

Children see words and faces differently from adults, according to new Stanford research. (Image credit: Getty Images)
Feb 23 2018

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Faculty, In the News, Students

A new study finds that young children’s brains have not yet fully developed the vision circuits they need to understand words and recognize faces, a finding that could help in understanding how children learn to read.


Young children literally see words and faces differently from adults. Where adults can most easily comprehend a word when they look at it straight on, children need to look a bit up and to the left. For faces, they need to look a bit up and to the right.

What’s more, those differences are accompanied by previously undetected changes in the brain circuits responsible for processing words and faces, researchers report Feb. 23 in Nature Communications.

“Kids’ window onto the world is different from adults,” said Jesse Gomez, a graduate student in the Stanford Neurosciences PhD Program and the lead author of the new study. Studying that window could help researchers better understand how children learn to read and recognize faces – and perhaps better understand dyslexia and autism as well