A critical question in Cognitive Science concerns how knowledge of specific domains emerges during development. Here we examined how limitations of the visual system during the first days of life may shape subsequent development of face processing abilities. By manipulating the bands of spatial frequencies of face images, we investigated what is the nature of the visual information that newborn infants rely on to perform face recognition. Newborns were able to extract from a face the visual information lying from 0 to 1 cpd (Experiment 1), but only a narrower 0-0.5 cpd spatial frequency range was successful to accomplish face recognition (Experiment 2). These results provide the first empirical support of a low spatial frequency advantage in individual face recognition at birth and suggest that early in life low-level, non-specific perceptual constraints affect the development of the face processing system.
de Heering, A., Turati, C., Rossion, B., Bulf, H., Goffaux, V., & Simion, F. (2008). Newborn's face recognition is based on spatial frequencies below 0.5 cycles per degree. Cognition, 106(1), 444-454. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2006.12.012