September 2011
Volume 11, Issue 11
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2011
Local Processing in the Navon Task Slows Face Gender Discrimination
Author Affiliations
  • James Thompson
    Department of Psychology, George Mason University, USA
  • Elisabeth Ploran
    Department of Psychology, George Mason University, USA
  • Christopher Williams
    Department of Psychology, George Mason University, USA
Journal of Vision September 2011, Vol.11, 677. doi:
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      James Thompson, Elisabeth Ploran, Christopher Williams; Local Processing in the Navon Task Slows Face Gender Discrimination. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):677.

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

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Configural processing is important for the processing of faces. However, it is unclear if configural face processing is not rooted in a more generic mechanism. Evidence in favor of a generic configural mechanism comes from reports that face recognition deficits in high functioning autism are correlated with local processing performance of the Navon letters task, suggesting an overall configural deficit. In addition, a number of previous studies have shown poorer face recognition memory in healthy participants following the processing of the local features of a Navon task. It has been suggested that these effects on face recognition reflect transfer-inappropriate processing induced by the local processing in the Navon task. However, these effects have typically been shown when the Navon task is performed between the encoding and retrieval stages of a memory task for unfamiliar faces. In the present study, we examined if such effects also extend to gender discrimination of faces, which is a highly overlearned face discrimination task. Fifteen participants performed a global or local Navon task for two minutes, and then intermittently made face discriminations among more trials of the same Navon task. The order of local and global Navon task blocks was counterbalanced across participants. Results indicated that gender discrimination was significantly slower following performance of the local Navon task compared to following the global Navon task. These findings indicate that local processing of non-face stimuli, as induced by performance of the Navon task, can also spill over to the processing of faces. This suggests that the configural processing that is used for face processing is also used for other types of stimuli, and may be part of a more generic configural processing system.


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