August 2009
Volume 9, Issue 8
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2009
Face discrimination in infants and adults: The role of contrast polarity of the eyes
Author Affiliations
  • Yumiko Otsuka
    Institute of Advanced Biomedical Engineering & Science, Tokyo Women's Medical University
  • Isamu Motoyoshi
    NTT Communication Science Laboratories, NTT
  • Megumi Kobayashi
    Department of Psychology, Chuo University
  • Harold Hill
    School of Psychology, University of Wollongong
  • So Kanazawa
    Department of Psychology, Japan Women's University
  • Masami K. Yamaguchi
    Department of Psychology, Chuo University, and PRESTO Japan Science & Technology Agency
Journal of Vision August 2009, Vol.9, 474. doi:
  • Views
  • Share
  • Tools
    • Alerts
      This feature is available to authenticated users only.
      Sign In or Create an Account ×
    • Get Citation

      Yumiko Otsuka, Isamu Motoyoshi, Megumi Kobayashi, Harold Hill, So Kanazawa, Masami K. Yamaguchi; Face discrimination in infants and adults: The role of contrast polarity of the eyes. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):474.

      Download citation file:

      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

  • Supplements

Humans are the only primates that have a white sclera that contrasts with the darker colored iris (Kobayashi & Kohshima, 1997). While color and darkness of skin, hair, and iris vary widely among humans, the color of sclera is universally white and lighter than the iris. Hence, all human faces share a common contrast polarity relationship between the sclera and iris, in addition to the first order spatial relationships between the facial features (two eyes above a nose, which is above a mouth). Here, we test the possibility that the contrast polarity relationship between the sclera and iris plays an important roll in facial processing by infants.

By independently manipulating contrast polarity of the eye ball region and other facial regions, we created the following four image conditions: Positive Face condition (original grayscale image), Negative Face condition (fully negated image), Negative Eyes condition (positive facial image with negated eyes), and Positive Eyes condition (negative facial image with positive eyes). We compared infants' ability to discriminate between faces under these four image conditions.

Forty-eight 7–8 month-old-infants participated in the present study. We employed a familiarization/novelty preference procedure to test face discrimination in infants. During familiarization phase, infants were repeatedly shown a female face for six 15 sec trials. Then, they were shown the familiarized female face and a novel female face side by side for two 10 sec trials. Infants showed a significant looking preference for novel face only in the Positive Face and Positive Eyes conditions. These results show that infants only discriminate between the faces when the contrast polarity of the eyes is preserved, irrespective to the contrast polarity of facial surface and is consistent with a critical role for the contrast polarity of eyes in infants' face perception. We will present further data from adult participants.

Otsuka, Y. Motoyoshi, I. Kobayashi, M. Hill, H. Kanazawa, S. Yamaguchi, M. K. (2009). Face discrimination in infants and adults: The role of contrast polarity of the eyes [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 9(8):474, 474a,, doi:10.1167/9.8.474. [CrossRef]
 This research was supported by PRESTO, Japan Science and Technology Agency and a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (18300090, 20119002) from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science(JSPS), and by a Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows (196068).

This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

Sign in or purchase a subscription to access this content. ×

You must be signed into an individual account to use this feature.