Becoming a Lunari or Taiyo expert: learned attention to parts drives holistic processing of faces.

Chua KW, Richler JJ, Gauthier I
J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 2014 40 (3): 1174-82

PMID: 24588261 · PMCID: PMC4153696 · DOI:10.1037/a0035895

Faces are processed holistically, but the locus of holistic processing remains unclear. We created two novel races of faces (Lunaris and Taiyos) to study how experience with face parts influences holistic processing. In Experiment 1, subjects individuated Lunaris wherein the top, bottom, or both face halves contained diagnostic information. Subjects who learned to attend to face parts exhibited no holistic processing. This suggests that individuation only leads to holistic processing when the whole face is attended. In Experiment 2, subjects individuated both Lunaris and Taiyos, with diagnostic information in complementary face halves of the two races. Holistic processing was measured with composites made of either diagnostic or nondiagnostic face parts. Holistic processing was only observed for composites made from diagnostic face parts, demonstrating that holistic processing can occur for diagnostic face parts that were never seen together. These results suggest that holistic processing is an expression of learned attention to diagnostic face parts.

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MeSH Terms (12)

Adult Attention Discrimination (Psychology) Ethnic Groups Face Female Humans Male Pattern Recognition, Visual Perceptual Distortion Perceptual Masking Young Adult

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