The effects of AOA of late and early acquired famous faces

Theeffects of AOA of late and early acquired famous faces

Theeffects of AOA of late and early acquired famous faces

Theage of acquisition phenomenon holds that when one acquires a piece ofinformation earlier than another, then a faster response time will beachieved in adulthood. Numerous studies have shown that the age ofacquisition has an important role. These studies have focused on thelatency between visual stimulus and the appropriate response. Mooreand Valentine (1999) point out that information which is acquiredlate in life is usually processed slower than that which was acquiredearly in life. Additionally, they point out that pictures with highfrequency names are often named faster compared to those with lowfrequencies. It thus follows that AOA and the frequency of the namesimpacts the recognition of famous faces. However, Carroll &amp White(1973) report in their findings that accounting for AOA in facenaming eliminates the significance of word frequency.

Bindemann,Burton and Jenkins (2005) are of the view that the extent to whichtask irrelevant stimuli is processed has emerged as a fundamentalissue in studies involving selective visual attention. They arguethat target distracter interface has been developed as one of theways through which the processing of task irrelevant stimuli can bemeasured. This means that the technique can be used to measure theimpact of AOA on late and early famous faces. Only a small portion ofinformation fed into the brain enters awareness (Jenkins, Lavie andDriver, 2003). This means that a person is not always capable ofrecalling the information that has been passed to him. The ability torecall the information also diminishes with age. Jenkins, Lavie andDriver (2003) point out that the brain selects information forfurther processing and that the selection depends on the top-downrelevance of the information and the bottom-up ability of theinformation to capture attention. The current study analyzes theimpact of AOA of late and early acquired faces.

Ericksen(1995) points out that the impact of response compatibility is foundin the response system as opposed to the cognitive of perceptualprocessing of the stimulus displays. On the other hand,Jenkins,Lavie and Driver (2003) point out that stimuli of intrinsic naturesuch as faces have been rarely presented as distracters and that theprocessing of stimuli that are fairly neutral has been the focus ofmost selective attention studies. In their study, they sought toinvestigate category specific dilution of distracter interface andreport that there is a difference in the way distracter faces actwhen compared to other types of distracters and that only facespecific capacity challenges limit distracter faces. Lewis (1999)studies whether there is an instance based account in age ofacquisition in face categorization. He points out that studies thatutilize famous faces as stimuli are problematic because ischallenging to get an adequate number of famous people that can berecognized by all the participants and that it is difficult tostandardize the faces in order to achieve an equally goodrepresentation. Another problem mentioned with regard to this type ofstudies is that it is difficult to match the faces to the factorsthat influence their recognition. Lewis opines that distinctivenessis one factor that has been reported to be significant in suchstudies.


Thefundamental research question that the current study seeks to findanswers to is what effect does age of acquisition has on the earlyand late acquisition of famous faces. Additionally, the study seeksto find answers to the following sub-set of questions:

  • How is the age of acquisition and word frequency related when it comes to early and late naming of famous faces?

  • What effects does late and early age of acquisition has on identifying and naming of famous faces?

  • In which ways can late and early acquisition of faces be improved?

  • What are the main factors that hinder both late and early acquisition of faces?

Aimsand objectives of the study

Thestudy aims at identifying the effects of age of acquisition of lateand early acquired famous faces. Additionally, it aims at:

  • Identifying the relationship between age of acquisition and word frequency on naming of famous face

  • Pointing out the different effects of early and late age of acquisition on the naming of famous names

  • Identifying ways through which late and early acquisition of faces can be improved to enhance recall and naming in adulthood

  • Point out the factors that hinder early and late acquisition of faces.


Moreeand Valentine (1999) argue that information acquired early in life isalways processed at a faster speed than information acquired late inlife. They are of the view that this fact poses a great challenge inaccounting for age of acquisition based on the development oflanguage. In their study, they sought to analyze how age ofacquisition impacts the processing of famous names and faces. Theyreport that the impact of AOA was established in three of theexperiments they conducted namely making familiarity to celeb faces,making familiarity to their names and reading their printed namesaloud. They point out that the chief determinant of the processingspeed of famous names and faces is the temporal order of acquisitionas opposed to age of acquisition. Lake and Cottrell (2006) conductedan investigation to find out the effect of age of acquisition infacial recognition. They point out that apart from facialrecognition, other measures of the impact of AOA that have been usedin the past include arbitrary mappings and abstractly model reading.They provide a connectionist model of facial identification taskwhich shows a strong age of acquisition effect on facial recognition.

Lakeand Contrell (2006) report that connectionist networks that have beenmodified to be classifiers are effective in showing AOA impact in thesame way as network mappings of a different nature. They point outthat a wider scope of AOA effects in evident in connectionistnetworks than previously researched. Bindemann et al (2004)undertook a study to investigate the capacity limits of faceprocessing. Their study involved three experiments in which theparticipants were required to make speed judgments to non-face andface targets. They report that there are differences in theprocessing of face and non-face targets especially when distracterfaces are introduced.


Thestudy will utilize a qualitative research approach. The design isextensively utilized by researchers who seek to study the habits andhuman behavior. It is regarded by most researchers as a precursor toquantitative research. This is because qualitative studies are mostlyutilized to come up with ideas and possible leads which in turn canbe used to generate hypothesis that are testable and realistic. Anexperimental research design will be used. Face-only views of famouspeople in the film industry will be used as stimuli. For each of thefaces, the movies that the actors have been part of the cast andtheir year of production will be recorded. The faces will bepresented on an Apple Multiscan 15 screen in many different colors.


Purposefulsampling would be used in the selection of participants. Participantswill include university students aged between 18 and 25 years.Purposeful sampling makes it possible for the researcher to selectcases that are rich in information for in depth investigation to beconducted. The selections of participants in most qualitative studiesare purposeful. Purposeful sampling makes it possible for subjects tobe selected based on the research questions. It facilitates theparticipation of subjects who can best inform and enhance theunderstanding of the issue under study. As opposed to quantitativestudies where is often predetermined, the sample size in qualitativestudies depends on the necessary number that will ensure that thecrucial elements of the topic under investigation are fully informed.A pool consisting of 15 participants will be selected. A mixture ofboth female and male participants will be included in the study. Theyhave to fulfill the criteria of being frequent movie viewers.


Participantswill be presented with a series of different faces. They will berequired to give a response on what movie the individual has appearedin by pressing specific keys. The faces will be presented in a singleblock and each will be displayed until a response is made by theparticipants. Practice trials will be done at the beginning of thepractice in order to familiarize the participants with the process.Faces used in the practice trail will be removed from the analysis.As opposed to making guesses about the faces, the participants willbe allowed to press a certain key if they are unfamiliar with theface on display.


Thetime required to correctly identify each face will be the dependentvariable while the independent variable would be the number of moviesthe characters have appeared in as well as the time the charactershave been in the film industry.


Bindemann,M., Burton, A., &amp Jenkins, R. (2005). Capacity limits for faceprocessing. Cognition, 98, 177-197.

Eriksen,C.W. (1995). The flankers task and response competition: A usefultool for investigating a variety of cognitive problems. VisualCognition, 2, 101-118.

Jenkins,R., Lavie, N., &amp Driver, J. (2003). Ignoring famous faces:Category-specific dilution of distractor interference. Perception andPsychophysics, 65, 298-309.

Lake,B., &amp Cottrell, G. (2006).&nbspAgeof Acquisition in Facial Identification: A Connectionist Approach(1sted.). Retrieved from

Lewis,M. (1999). Age of acquisition in face categorisation: is there aninstance-based account?.Cognition,&nbsp71(1),B23-B39. doi:10.1016/s0010-0277(99)00020-7

Moore,V., &amp Valentine, T. (1999). The Effects Of Age Of Acquisition InProcessing Famous Faces And Names: Exploring The Locus And ProposingA Mechanism.&nbspIn:Proceedings Of The Twenty-First Annual Meeting Of The CognitiveScience Society, 1999. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates (Pp.416-421)..