Talk Gentaz & Bayet
The development of emotional facial expression discrimination by newborns and infants in the first year of life
Prof. Edouard Gentaz (University of Geneva)
Ms. Laurie Bayet (University of Grenoble & University of Geneva)
The current seminar reviews the studies of emotional facial expression discrimination by newborns and infants in the first year of life. These studies show that 1) sensitivity to changes in facial expression and an attraction to smiling faces might exist in newborns, and are present in the first months of life, 2) the ability to discriminate joy from several other expressions appears before 6 months of age, 3) older infants (6-7 months) show an attraction to fearful faces due to attentional effects and 4) those older infants begin to develop the ability to discriminate between several expressions other than joy. We then discuss the sensitivity of the infants to the genuinely emotional content of facial expressions, which is left more or less unresolved by the reviewed studies, and some possible causal explanations for its development.