Show Reference: "CONSPEC and CONLERN: A Two-Process Theory of Infant Face Recognition"

CONSPEC and CONLERN: A Two-Process Theory of Infant Face Recognition Psychological Review, Vol. 98, No. 2. (1991), pp. 164-181, doi:10.1037/0033-295x.98.2.164 by John Morton, Mark H. Johnson
    abstract = {Evidence from newborns leads to the conclusion that infants are born with some information about the structure of faces. This structural information, termed {CONSPEC}, guides the preference for facelike patterns found in newborn infants. {CONSPEC} is contrasted with a device termed {CONLERN}, which is responsible for learning about the visual characteristics of conspecifics. In the human infant, {CONLERN} does not influence looking behavior until 2 months of age. The distinction between these 2 independent mechanisms allows a reconciliation of the conflicting data on the development of face recognition in human infants. Finally, evidence from another species, the domestic chick, for which a similar 2-process theory has already been put forward, is discussed. The new nomenclature is applied to the chick and used as a basis for comparison with the infant.},
    author = {Morton, John and Johnson, Mark H.},
    doi = {10.1037/0033-295x.98.2.164},
    issn = {1939-1471},
    journal = {Psychological Review},
    keywords = {biology, cortical, development, face-detection, pulvinar, sc},
    number = {2},
    pages = {164--181},
    posted-at = {2013-10-30 08:36:03},
    priority = {2},
    publisher = {APA},
    title = {{CONSPEC} and {CONLERN}: A {Two-Process} Theory of Infant Face Recognition},
    url = {},
    volume = {98},
    year = {1991}

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According to Johnson and Morton, there are two visual pathways for face detection: the primary cortical pathway and one through SC and pulvinar.

The cortical pathway is called CONLEARN and is theorized to be plastic, whereas the sub-cortical pathway is called CONSPEC and is thought to be fixed and genetically predisposed to detect conspecific faces.