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Isabelle Bülthoff, Fiona N. Newell; Voices, not arbitrary sounds, prime the recognition of familiar faces. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):10. doi: 10.1167/6.6.10.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Our previous studies have shown that memory for a face can be affected by the distinctiveness of a voice to which it had been paired (Bülthoff & Newell, ECVP2004). Moreover, we showed that voices can prime face recognition, suggesting a tight, cross-modal coupling between both types of stimuli. Further investigations however, seemed to suggest that non person-related audio stimuli could also affect memory for faces. For example, faces that had been associated with distinctive instrumental sounds were indeed better recognized in an old/new task than faces paired to typical sounds. Here we investigated whether these arbitrary sounds can also prime face recognition. Our results suggest that arbitrary audio stimuli do not prime recognition of faces. This finding suggests that attentional differences may have resulted in better recognition performance for faces paired to distinctive sounds in the explicit old/new task. Voices are easier to associate closely to faces. We also investigated whether the voice priming effect found earlier might be based on the use of different first names in each audio stimulus, that is, whether the effect was based on semantic rather than perceptual information. We repeated the priming experiment using the same voice stimuli, but name information was removed. The results show that there is still a significant priming effect of voices to faces, albeit weaker than in the full voice experiment. The semantic information related to the first name helps but is not be decisive for the priming effect of voices on face recognition.
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