A new study has shown that not only do masks hinder the ability of children to recognize faces, but they also disrupt the typical, holistic way that faces are processed.
Researchers had children perform the CFMT-K, a facial memorization examination for kids, and discovered a substantial disparity among children examining unmasked faces and masked faces.
“The main findings from this paper are that children struggle to recognize masked faces. We found a decrease of 20 percent in their ability to recognize masked faces, while the average decline is around 15 percent for adults,” one among several researchers, Erez Freud, assistant professor in the Faculty of Health at York University in Canada, informed the press in an email.
Prior research has shown that masks impair adults’ capacity to interpret faces. The new research (read below) is among the earliest to look at how masks affect children’s facial identification ability.
For said study, 72 youngsters between the ages of 6 and 14 were assessed.
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Researchers analysed the test findings of two sets of children, one 11 years old and the other younger, and determined that the influence of masking on face recollection changes little depending on age. As per the peer-reviewed study (read the study below) presented in Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, the mask phenomenon probably represents “a reduction in both holistic and featural processing.”
The term “holistic processing” alludes towards how humans perceive the entire face at the same time, as contrasted to separate aspects. The term “featural processing” pertains to the use of characteristics such as the nose while studying faces.
“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 in a statement.
“If holistic processing is impaired and recognition is impaired, there is a possibility it could impair children’s ability to navigate through social interactions with their peers and teachers, and this could lead to issues forming important relationships. Given the importance of faces to social interactions, this is something we need to pay attention to.”
School mask regulations gained popularity amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, and several jurisdictions have retained them in effect for almost two years, although some governors said this week that they will soon be rescinded. Some specialists argue that there is little evidence to justify the usage of masks in schools, whereas others argue that wearing a mask has served to slow the progression of the virus, which induces COVID-19.
The current study’s authors started by stating that using masks “is an effective tool in reducing novel coronavirus transmission,” and Freud stated that the results should not lead authorities to discontinue enforcing masks in schools.
“While it is important to acknowledge that masks may alter face processing, the experts say the benefits of mask-wearing are far more significant in terms of our children’s safety and health,” he said.
He stated that the researchers will next investigate if children’s increasing exposure with masked faces “facilitates children’s recognition abilities.”
Read the full study here: