In visually complex environments, numerous items compete for attention. Infants may exhibit attentional efficiency—privileged detection, attention capture, and holding—for face-like stimuli. However, it remains unknown when these biases develop and what role, if any, experience plays in this emerging skill. Here, nursery-reared infant macaques' (Macaca mulatta; n = 10) attention to faces in 10-item arrays of nonfaces was measured using eye tracking. With limited face experience, 3-week-old monkeys were more likely to detect faces and looked longer at faces compared to nonfaces, suggesting a robust face detection system. By 3 months, after peer exposure, infants looked faster to conspecific faces but not heterospecific faces, suggesting an own-species bias in face attention capture, consistent with perceptual attunement.
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