Israeli study: children find it difficult to recognize people in masks

i24NEWS

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Grandparents meets with their grandchildren in their home in Ramat Gan, Israel, on February 5, 2021.
Chen Leopold/Flash90Grandparents meets with their grandchildren in their home in Ramat Gan, Israel, on February 5, 2021.

'Masks disrupt the typical, holistic way that faces are processed'

A new study published Monday concluded that children find it more difficult than adults to recognize faces behind masks.

The study, led by Ben-Gurion University in Beersheva and York University in Toronto, found that children had difficulty recognizing faces partially covered by masks, leading to social challenges. 

While a previous study showed that mask-wearing hindered recognition in adults, the latest study shows it is much worse in children. 

In a statement Tuesday, Ben-Gurion University said that being unable to recognize faces “could potentially impact social interactions with peers and educators, as well as the ability to form important relationships" in the context of the Covid pandemic

“Faces are among the most important visual stimuli. We use facial information to determine different attributes about a person, including their gender, age, mood, and intentions. We use this information to navigate through social interactions,” said York University Assistant Professor Erez Freud, the study’s senior author, according to The Times of Israel

The study examined 72 children aged 6 to 14, showing faces with and without masks, using a children's version of the Cambridge Face Memory Test. 

Children's face-perception abilities were impaired when presented with masked faces more than adults, a 20 percent impairment level in children compared to a 15 percent rate for adults.

“Not only do masks hinder the ability of children to recognize faces, but they also disrupt the typical, holistic way that faces are processed,” Freud said. 

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