Perceptual expertise with objects predicts another hallmark of face perception.

McGugin RW, Gauthier I
J Vis. 2009 10 (4): 15.1-12

PMID: 20465319 · PMCID: PMC2904397 · DOI:10.1167/10.4.15

There is no shortage of evidence to suggest that faces constitute a special category in human perception. Surprisingly little consensus exists, however, regarding the interpretation of these results. The question persists: what makes faces special? We address this issue via one hallmark of face perception-its striking sensitivity to low-level image format-and present evidence in favor of an expertise account of the specialization of face perception. In accordance with earlier work (I. Biederman & P. Kalocsai, 1997), we find that manipulating one image into two versions that are complementary in spatial frequency (SF) and orientation information disproportionately impairs face matching relative to object matching. Here, we demonstrate that this characteristic of face processing is also found for cars, with its magnitude predicted by the observers' level of expertise with cars. We argue that the bar needs to be raised for what constitutes proper evidence that face perception is special in a manner that is not related to our expertise in this domain.

MeSH Terms (12)

Face Female Form Perception Humans Male Orientation Pattern Recognition, Visual Perceptual Distortion Photic Stimulation Predictive Value of Tests Space Perception Young Adult

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