Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2019

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Faces are special not just because our ability to quickly and accurately process faces is integral for social functioning throughout our lives, but also because faces are considered a unique class of visual stimuli (i.e., faces rely more on holistic processing than objects and there exist specialized, face-specific regions in the brain). Behavioral and neuropsychological research point to face processing as dissociable from other kinds of visuospatial processing. Although there is evidence that neural specificity for faces is retained in older adults, there is also evidence that age-related impairments are greater in face processing, relative to object processing. Using a large set of matched perceptual tasks in the face and object domain, I tested the hypothesis that age-related cognitive slowing proceeds at a different rate for face processing compared to slowing associated with object processing. Analyses clearly revealed only one slowing function which indicated that older adults’ performance could be predicted by young adults’ performance, irrespective of domain (i.e., whether the tasks involved face processing or object processing). Bayes Factors analyses also showed strong support for the null hypothesis of equivalent age-related slowing of both face and object processing. Taken together, the findings show that the rates of age-related slowing in the face and object domains are indistinguishable and support the view that a single mechanism governs speed of processing within the visuospatial domain, regardless of the type of stimuli.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Sandra Hale Joel Myerson

Committee Members

Richard Abrams, Jonathan Peelle, Desiree White,


Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.7936/85n6-fx49