July 2013
Volume 13, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   July 2013
Lunari Face Expertise: Holistic processing depends on experience with diagnostic parts
Author Affiliations
  • Kao-Wei Chua
    Vanderbilt University
  • Isabel Gauthier
    Vanderbilt University
Journal of Vision July 2013, Vol.13, 93. doi:https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.93
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      Kao-Wei Chua, Isabel Gauthier; Lunari Face Expertise: Holistic processing depends on experience with diagnostic parts. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):93. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/13.9.93.

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

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One kind of perceptual expertise results in holistic processing, the tendency to process objects as entire wholes rather than through constituent features. People who process faces more holistically are better at face recognition (Richler et al., 2011; DeGutis et al., 2013) and individuation, or learning the names of specific exemplars in a category, leads to holistic processing for novel objects (Wong et al., 2008). However, it is unclear how individuation leads to holistic processing. We ask whether improvements in face discrimination are necessarily accompanied by increases in holistic processing, in particular when participants learn through experience that a particular part contains little or no diagnostic information. We developed a training regimen wherein participants learned to individuate faces of a novel race, the Lunaris. One group of participants individuated faces where both face halves were diagnostic (Whole group, N=51). Another group individuated faces where diagnostic information was either only in the top or only in the bottom face half (Parts Group, N=49). Both groups showed improvements in discriminating new Lunari faces of the kind they trained with. Holistic processing of transfer Lunari faces was tested with the composite task (Richler et al., 2011). The Whole group processed new Lunaris more holistically than the Parts group, F(1,91) = 4.41, p = 0.038. Interestingly, the Parts group showed a pattern of results similar that of individuals with autism (Gauthier et al., 2009), with sensitivity to irrelevant information of the same magnitude regardless of the configuration of parts. Thus, individuation alone does not guarantee holistic processing: attention to diagnostic face parts is more critical. Our results help understand the mechanisms behind the acquisition of holistic processing, and offer a possible explanation for reduced holistic processing in individuals with autism, who have been shown to attend to the mouth (Klin et al., 2002).

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013


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