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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
8-Sep-2009

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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-203-192-2165
BioMed Central
@biomedcentral

Face processing slows with age

Identifying a face can be difficult when that face is shown for only a fraction of a second. However, young adults have a marked advantage over elderly people in these conditions. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Neuroscience found indications that elderly people have reduced perception speed.

Guillaume Rousselet, from the University of Glasgow, UK, worked with a team of researchers to study electric activity from the brains of young and old people as they watched pictures of faces with cloud-like noise. He said, "Very few studies have attempted to measure the effect of ageing on the time-course of visual processing in response to complex stimuli like faces. We found that, as well as a general reduction in speed in the elderly, one particular component of the response to a face, the N170, is less sensitive to faces in the elderly".

The N170 occurs 170 milliseconds after a stimulus is presented. In the young, it was more closely associated with the appearance of a face, while in older subjects it occurred also in response to noise, perhaps implying reduced ability to differentiate faces from noise. Speaking about the results, Rousselet said, "Our data support the common belief that as we get older we get slower. Beyond this general conclusion, our research provides new tools to quantify by how much the brain slows down in the particular context of face perception. Now, we need to identify the reasons for the speed reduction and for the heterogeneity of the effects - indeed, why the brains of some older subjects seem to tick as fast as the brains of some young subjects is, at this point, a complete mystery".

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Notes to Editors

1. Age-related delay in information accrual for faces: Evidence from a parametric, single-trial EEG approach
Guillaume A Rousselet, Jesse S Husk, Cyril R Pernet, Carl M Gaspar, Patrick J Bennett and Allison B Sekuler
BMC Neuroscience (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/4224557912554489_article.pdf?random=602889
After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcneurosci/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication

2. BMC Neuroscience is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of the nervous system, including molecular, cellular, developmental and animal model studies, as well as cognitive and behavioral research, and computational modeling. BMC Neuroscience (ISSN 1471-2202) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.



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