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Emma Jaquet, Gillian Rhodes, William G. Hayward; Figural aftereffects transfer, but are also contingent on, race categories. Journal of Vision 2006;6(6):884. doi: 10.1167/6.6.884.
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Race is perceived categorically in faces. Clear boundaries separate faces perceived as belonging to one race category, e.g., Caucasian, and those perceived as belonging to another, e.g., African American (Levin & Angelone, 2002). We investigated the functional independence of these race categories by attempting to alter perception of faces from one race independently of another race. Participants were adapted to configurally distorted Chinese (or Caucasian) faces and tested for transfer of aftereffects to Caucasian (or Chinese) faces (Experiment 1). In the Experiment 2 participants were adapted simultaneously to Caucasian faces distorted one way, and Chinese faces distorted in the opposite way to determined if race-contingent aftereffects could be induced. Some transfer of aftereffects between race categories was found in Experiment 1. Perception of normality was systematically biased in the direction of the adapting distortion in most cases, regardless of which race was viewed during adaptation. In Experiment 2, perceptions of normality were biased in opposite directions for the two races. These results suggest that the perceptual system can update our face norms in a way that is insensitive to race categories. However, where a race distinction is made relevant, the perceptual system can selectively update the norms of each face category. These results present evidence that coding of race categories may rely on both shared and distinct neural populations.
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