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Guillaume A. Rousselet, Marc J.-M. Macé, Michèle Fabre-Thorpe; Is it an animal? Is it a human face? Fast processing in upright and inverted natural scenes. Journal of Vision 2003;3(6):5. doi: 10.1167/3.6.5.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Object categorization can be extremely fast. But among all objects, human faces might hold a special status that could depend on a specialized module. Visual processing could thus be faster for faces than for any other kind of object. Moreover, because face processing might rely on facial configuration, it could be more disrupted by stimulus inversion. Here we report two experiments that compared the rapid categorization of human faces and animals or animal faces in the context of upright and inverted natural scenes. In Experiment 1, the natural scenes contained human faces and animals in a full range of scales from close-up to far views. In Experiment 2, targets were restricted to close-ups of human faces and animal faces. Both experiments revealed the remarkable object processing efficiency of our visual system and further showed (1) virtually no advantage for faces over animals; (2) very little performance impairment with inversion; and (3) greater sensitivity of faces to inversion. These results are interpreted within the framework of a unique system for object processing in the ventral pathway. In this system, evidence would accumulate very quickly and efficiently to categorize visual objects, without involving a face module or a mental rotation mechanism. It is further suggested that rapid object categorization in natural scenes might not rely on high-level features but rather on features of intermediate complexity.
(tD) and (nD) refers respectively to the distractors that were used as targets in the other task or to the neutral distractors used in both tasks. SD is indicated in brackets. Range of individual responses (min and max) is indicated in square brackets.
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