THE NEURAL BASIS OF FACE PROCESSING IN INFANCY AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF EMPATHY
Faces are a salient part of the visual social environment, providing important signals including emotional expression and direction of eye gaze that inform us about other peopleâs feelings and intentions. In this paper, we review the development and neural bases of infantsâ perception of emotion and eye gaze from faces. Building from the idea that the same or similar brain network responds when we see another person experiencing an emotion as when we actually experience it ourselves, we go on to speculate how the neural system underlying infantsâ abilities to perceive social information in the face might provide the brain bases for emerging empathy abilities. We conclude by providing suggestions as to how developmental cognitive neuroscientists can bridge the gap between how infantsâ perceptions are used to give rise to the semantic meaning of emotions and also the understanding of how the emotions displayed reflect the feelings of others.
KEYWORDS: faces, emotion, eye-gaze, event-related potentials, infancy.