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Heather Jordan, Marielle Johnson, Mazyar Fallah; Dual perceptual adaptation in human faces: Gender and age. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):1140. doi: 10.1167/8.6.1140.
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Purpose: Adaptation to female faces makes a gender-neutral test face appear male, and vice versa. While it may not be clear which features define “maleness” or “femaleness” in faces (Webster et al., 2004) or biological motion (Jordan, Fallah & Stoner, 2006), the assumption is that adaptation shifts the viewer's judgment along a single perceptual dimension. Perceptual adaptation effects have been extended beyond gender to many other dimensions depicted by faces, e.g. identity, race, viewpoint, expression, attractiveness etc. However, it remains unknown whether perceptual adaptation can occur for more than a single dimension. Method and Results: The first study tested whether gender adaptation is observed to children's faces. On each block of trials, participants were adapted to either boy or girl faces for a period before judging a morphed test face as predominantly a boy or a girl. Participants were more likely to report gender neutral stimuli as a girl after adaptation to the faces of boys and vice versa. This clearly replicates studies showing gender adaptation for adult faces. Like adults, the faces of boys and girls appear to be represented along a single gender dimension. The second study tested the relationship between the representation of young (boys/girls) and mature (men/women) males and females. The adapter and test stimuli comprised all possible pairs of gender/age combinations. Adaptation was observed simultaneously across both gender and age. The relationship between age and gender adaptation effects, and its implications for neuronal representation will be discussed.
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