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Leila Reddy, Lavanya Reddy, Pietro Perona, Christof Koch; Face identification in the near-absence of spatial attention. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):306. doi: 10.1167/6.6.306.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Subjects can detect animals and vehicles in images while spatial attention is engaged by another visual task. The same is true for the gender of a face. By contrast, simple geometrical shapes cannot be discriminated in the same regime. We investigated whether the identity of faces may be also perceived in the near-absence of spatial attention. Our subjects were asked to identify faces of celebrities, as well as relatively unfamiliar individuals while their attention was/was not engaged by a letter discrimination task. We found that both familiar and unfamiliar face identification were minimally affected by the concurrent letter task. These results thus suggest that the visual system is well able to make complex judgments of natural stimuli, even when spatial attention is not fully available.
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