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Yaroslav Konar, Patrick J. Bennett, Allison B. Sekuler; Does holistic processing predict face identification? The effect of aging. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):563. doi: 10.1167/9.8.563.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Although most young observers exhibit holistic processing, the extent of holistic processing does not predict face identification (Konar et al., JOV 2008). Here we examined the effects of aging on holistic face processing, as indexed by the Composite Face Effect (CFE), and the role holistic processes play in face identification. The CFE was measured in two groups of younger (mean=22.0 and 19.3 years; n=24 and 52) and older (mean=69.9 and 68.1 years; n=26 and 24) adults. All groups had significant CFEs. There was an age difference in the CFE based on measures of response time in both experiments, with old adults showing higher CFEs (ts ≥2.4, ps ≤0.03). There was no age difference in the CFE based on accuracy (ts ≥−0.5, ps ≤0.63). Therefore there was no evidence that holistic processing, as indexed by the CFE, declines with age, consistent with previous suggestions that holistic processing is spared in aging (Boutet & Faubert, 2006).
We then correlated the CFE with face identification accuracy measured in a 10 AFC task that used an unlimited viewing time, and a 4 AFC task that used a short stimulus duration that was identical to the one used in the CFE task. Accuracy in the 10 AFC task did not differ between age groups, but accuracy was lower in older subjects in the 4 AFC task. As reported previously, CFE and face identification were not correlated in younger subjects. In older subjects, CFEs were not correlated with accuracy in the 10 AFC identification task, but CFEs based on response accuracy, not reaction time, approached a significant correlation with face identification accuracy in the 4 AFC task (rho=0.36). The results suggest that holistic processing is maintained throughout our adult lives, and suggest that such processing may place greater constraints on face identification as we age.
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