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Larissa Vingilis-Jaremko, Victoria Guida, Karolina Beben, Grace Gabriel, Joseph DeSouza; Face and body recognition in dancers and non-dancers. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):918. doi: 10.1167/16.12.918.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
The ability to recognize others is critical to our everyday social interactions. Although extensive research has explored the role of the face for person recognition, little has explored the role of the body, which may be used for recognition at a distance. Because bodies may be processed similarly to faces (Rhodes, Jeffery, Boeing, & Calder, 2013; Robbins, Coltheart, 2010; Robbins, Coltheart, 2012), we explored whether body recognition abilities are influenced by visual experience, as are face recognition abilities. We tested two groups with different types of visual experience with bodies: dancers (n=29), who spend much of their time observing and comparing bodies in form fitting clothing to achieve a physical aesthetic, and non-dancers (n=37), who tend to see bodies in more obstructive clothing and spend less of their time viewing bodies. Participants viewed images of bodies wearing identical clothing, and after a short break, selected which body from a pair of bodies they had seen before. Participants completed the same task with faces in a separate, counterbalanced block. We hypothesized that dancers would have better accuracy at recognizing bodies, but perform similarly to non-dancers at recognizing faces. First, we found that participants recognized faces better than bodies (p< 0.001), consistent with previous research (Burton, Wilson, Cowan, & Bruce, 1999). Additionally, we found that dancers recognized faces and bodies better than non-dancers (main effect of participant group, p=0.043). These results suggest that dancers are more accurate at recognizing identity using the body than non-dancers, possibly because of their extensive visual experience with bodies. More accurate face recognition abilities among dancers could result from facilitation effects across brain networks, as bodies and faces are typically seen together.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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