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The fusiform face area (FFA) is defined by its selectivity for faces. Several studies have shown that the response of FFA to nonface objects can predict behavioral performance for these objects. However, one possible account is that experts pay more attention to objects in their domain of expertise, driving signals up. Here, we show an effect of expertise with nonface objects in FFA that cannot be explained by differential attention to objects of expertise. We explore the relationship between cortical thickness of FFA and face and object recognition using the Cambridge Face Memory Test and Vanderbilt Expertise Test, respectively. We measured cortical thickness in functionally defined regions in a group of men who evidenced functional expertise effects for cars in FFA. Performance with faces and objects together accounted for approximately 40% of the variance in cortical thickness of several FFA patches. Whereas participants with a thicker FFA cortex performed better with vehicles, those with a thinner FFA cortex performed better with faces and living objects. The results point to a domain-general role of FFA in object perception and reveal an interesting double dissociation that does not contrast faces and objects but rather living and nonliving objects.
Neuroimaging studies of recognition memory have identified distinct patterns of cortical activity associated with two sets of cognitive processes: Recollective processes supporting retrieval of information specifying a probe item's original source are associated with the posterior hippocampus, ventral posterior parietal cortex, and medial pFC. Familiarity processes supporting the correct identification of previously studied probes (in the absence of a recollective response) are associated with activity in anterior medial temporal lobe (MTL) structures including the perirhinal cortex and anterior hippocampus, in addition to lateral prefrontal and dorsal posterior parietal cortex. Here, we address an open question in the cognitive neuroscientific literature: To what extent are these same neurocognitive processes engaged during an internally directed memory search task like free recall? We recorded fMRI activity while participants performed a series of free recall and source recognition trials, and we used a combination of univariate and multivariate analysis techniques to compare neural activation profiles across the two tasks. Univariate analyses showed that posterior MTL regions were commonly associated with recollective processes during source recognition and with free recall responses. Prefrontal and posterior parietal regions were commonly associated with familiarity processes and free recall responses, whereas anterior MTL regions were only associated with familiarity processes during recognition. In contrast with the univariate results, free recall activity patterns characterized using multivariate pattern analysis did not reliably match the neural patterns associated with recollective processes. However, these free recall patterns did reliably match patterns associated with familiarity processes, supporting theories of memory in which common cognitive mechanisms support both item recognition and free recall.
How much do people differ in their abilities to recognize objects, and what is the source of these differences? To address the first question, psychologists have created visual learning tests including the Cambridge Face Memory Test (Duchaine & Nakayama, 2006) and the Vanderbilt Expertise Test (VET; McGugin et al., 2012). The second question requires consideration of the influences of both innate potential and experience, but experience is difficult to measure. One solution is to measure the products of experience beyond perceptual knowledge-specifically, nonvisual semantic knowledge. For instance, the relation between semantic and perceptual knowledge can help clarify the nature of object recognition deficits in brain-damaged patients (Barton, Hanif, & Ashraf, Brain, 132, 3456-3466, 2009). We present a reliable measure of nonperceptual knowledge in a format applicable across categories. The Semantic Vanderbilt Expertise Test (SVET) measures knowledge of relevant category-specific nomenclature. We present SVETs for eight categories: cars, planes, Transformers, dinosaurs, shoes, birds, leaves, and mushrooms. The SVET demonstrated good reliability and domain-specific validity. We found partial support for the idea that the only source of domain-specific shared variance between the VET and SVET is experience with a category. We also demonstrated the utility of the SVET-Bird in experts. The SVET can facilitate the study of individual differences in visual recognition.
Over the next 2 decades, a dramatic shift in the demographics of society will take place, with a rapid growth in the population of older adults. One of the most common complaints with healthy aging is a decreased ability to successfully perceive speech, particularly in noisy environments. In such noisy environments, the presence of visual speech cues (i.e., lip movements) provide striking benefits for speech perception and comprehension, but previous research suggests that older adults gain less from such audiovisual integration than their younger peers. To determine at what processing level these behavioral differences arise in healthy-aging populations, we administered a speech-in-noise task to younger and older adults. We compared the perceptual benefits of having speech information available in both the auditory and visual modalities and examined both phoneme and whole-word recognition across varying levels of signal-to-noise ratio. For whole-word recognition, older adults relative to younger adults showed greater multisensory gains at intermediate SNRs but reduced benefit at low SNRs. By contrast, at the phoneme level both younger and older adults showed approximately equivalent increases in multisensory gain as signal-to-noise ratio decreased. Collectively, the results provide important insights into both the similarities and differences in how older and younger adults integrate auditory and visual speech cues in noisy environments and help explain some of the conflicting findings in previous studies of multisensory speech perception in healthy aging. These novel findings suggest that audiovisual processing is intact at more elementary levels of speech perception in healthy-aging populations and that deficits begin to emerge only at the more complex word-recognition level of speech signals.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Efforts to understand individual differences in high-level vision necessitate the development of measures that have sufficient reliability, which is generally not a concern in group studies. Holistic processing is central to research on face recognition and, more recently, to the study of individual differences in this area. However, recent work has shown that the most popular measure of holistic processing, the composite task, has low reliability. This is particularly problematic for the recent surge in interest in studying individual differences in face recognition. Here, we developed and validated a new measure of holistic face processing specifically for use in individual-differences studies. It avoids some of the pitfalls of the standard composite design and capitalizes on the idea that trial variability allows for better traction on reliability. Across four experiments, we refine this test and demonstrate its reliability.
© 2014 ARVO.
The fusiform face area (FFA) is one of several areas in occipito-temporal cortex whose activity is correlated with perceptual expertise for objects. Here, we investigate the robustness of expertise effects in FFA and other areas to a strong task manipulation that increases both perceptual and attentional demands. With high-resolution fMRI at 7T, we measured responses to images of cars, faces and a category globally visually similar to cars (sofas) in 26 subjects who varied in expertise with cars, in (a) a low load 1-back task with a single object category and (b) a high load task in which objects from two categories were rapidly alternated and attention was required to both categories. The low load condition revealed several areas more active as a function of expertise, including both posterior and anterior portions of FFA bilaterally (FFA1/FFA2, respectively). Under high load, fewer areas were positively correlated with expertise and several areas were even negatively correlated, but the expertise effect in face-selective voxels in the anterior portion of FFA (FFA2) remained robust. Finally, we found that behavioral car expertise also predicted increased responses to sofa images but no behavioral advantages in sofa discrimination, suggesting that global shape similarity to a category of expertise is enough to elicit a response in FFA and other areas sensitive to experience, even when the category itself is not of special interest. The robustness of expertise effects in right FFA2 and the expertise effects driven by visual similarity both argue against attention being the sole determinant of expertise effects in extrastriate areas.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Social impairment is a core feature of schizophrenia, present from the pre-morbid stage and predictive of outcome, but the etiology of this deficit remains poorly understood. Successful and adaptive social interactions depend on one's ability to make rapid and accurate judgments about others in real time. Our surprising ability to form accurate first impressions from brief exposures, known as "thin slices" of behavior has been studied very extensively in healthy participants. We sought to examine affect and social trait judgment from thin slices of static or video stimuli in order to investigate the ability of schizophrenic individuals to form reliable social impressions of others. 21 individuals with schizophrenia (SZ) and 20 matched healthy participants (HC) were asked to identify emotions and social traits for actors in standardized face stimuli as well as brief video clips. Sound was removed from videos to remove all verbal cues. Clinical symptoms in SZ and delusional ideation in both groups were measured. Results showed a general impairment in affect recognition for both types of stimuli in SZ. However, the two groups did not differ in the judgments of trustworthiness, approachability, attractiveness, and intelligence. Interestingly, in SZ, the severity of positive symptoms was correlated with higher ratings of attractiveness, trustworthiness, and approachability. Finally, increased delusional ideation in SZ was associated with a tendency to rate others as more trustworthy, while the opposite was true for HC. These findings suggest that complex social judgments in SZ are affected by symptomatology.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Some research finds that face recognition is largely independent from the recognition of other objects; a specialized and innate ability to recognize faces could therefore have little or nothing to do with our ability to recognize objects. We propose a new framework in which recognition performance for any category is the product of domain-general ability and category-specific experience. In Experiment 1, we show that the overlap between face and object recognition depends on experience with objects. In 256 subjects we measured face recognition, object recognition for eight categories, and self-reported experience with these categories. Experience predicted neither face recognition nor object recognition but moderated their relationship: Face recognition performance is increasingly similar to object recognition performance with increasing object experience. If a subject has a lot of experience with objects and is found to perform poorly, they also prove to have a low ability with faces. In a follow-up survey, we explored the dimensions of experience with objects that may have contributed to self-reported experience in Experiment 1. Different dimensions of experience appear to be more salient for different categories, with general self-reports of expertise reflecting judgments of verbal knowledge about a category more than judgments of visual performance. The complexity of experience and current limitations in its measurement support the importance of aggregating across multiple categories. Our findings imply that both face and object recognition are supported by a common, domain-general ability expressed through experience with a category and best measured when accounting for experience.
© 2014 ARVO.
There is growing interest in the study of individual differences in face recognition, including one of its hallmarks, holistic processing, which can be defined as a failure of selective attention to parts. These efforts demand that researchers be aware of, and try to maximize, the reliability of their measurements. Here we report on the reliability of measurements using the composite task (complete design), a measure of holistic processing that has been shown to have relatively good validity. Several studies have used the composite task to investigate individual differences, yet only one study has discussed its reliability. We investigate the reliability of composite-task measurements in eight data sets from five different samples of subjects. In general, we found reliability to be fairly low, but there was substantial variability across experiments. Researchers should keep in mind that reliability is a property of measurements, not of a task, and think about the ways in which measurements in a particular task may be improved before embarking on individual differences research.
The concept of holistic processing is a cornerstone of face recognition research, yet central questions related to holistic processing remain unanswered, and debates have thus far failed to reach a resolution despite accumulating empirical evidence. We argue that a considerable source of confusion in this literature stems from a methodological problem. Specifically, 2 measures of holistic processing based on the composite paradigm (complete design and partial design) are used in the literature, but they often lead to qualitatively different results. First, we present a comprehensive review of the work that directly compares the 2 designs, and which clearly favors the complete design over the partial design. Second, we report a meta-analysis of holistic face processing according to both designs and use this as further evidence for one design over the other. The meta-analysis effect size of holistic processing in the complete design is nearly 3 times that of the partial design. Effect sizes were not correlated between measures, consistent with the suggestion that they do not measure the same thing. Our meta-analysis also examines the correlation between conditions in the complete design of the composite task, and suggests that in an individual differences context, little is gained by including a misaligned baseline. Finally, we offer a comprehensive review of the state of knowledge about holistic processing based on evidence gathered from the measure we favor based on the 1st sections of our review-the complete design-and outline outstanding research questions in that new context.
PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved.