The University of Sussex

The Thatcher illusion: what can it tell us about the infant's developing abilities to distinguish between facial expressions?

Deborah Horney

This study investigated infants' developing abilities in processing facial configurations that are thought to involve different processes from those used in detecting faces per se. The Thatcher illusion (Thompson 80) is thought to separate the holistic from configurational strategies used in face processing. Consequently, this illusion may allow us to observe infants' abilities in processing facial configurations in isolation from their holistic face-processing strategies. For the investigation the Thatcher illusion was used with four different facial expressions (happy, sad, angry and neutral) on adult female faces....The infants' preferences for different facial configurations were assessed by measuring the amount of time each infant looked at the Thatcherised and normal face....The conclusion is that this illusion appears to be an effective way for investigating infants' developing abilities for distinguishing between facial configurations.

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