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Morgan L. Spence, Katherine R. Storrs, Derek H. Arnold; Why the long face? The importance of vertical image structure for biological “barcodes” underlying face recognition. Journal of Vision 2014;14(8):25. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/14.8.25.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Humans are experts at face recognition. The mechanisms underlying this complex capacity are not fully understood. Recently, it has been proposed that face recognition is supported by a coarse-scale analysis of visual information contained in horizontal bands of contrast distributed along the vertical image axis—a biological facial “barcode” (Dakin & Watt, 2009). A critical prediction of the facial barcode hypothesis is that the distribution of image contrast along the vertical axis will be more important for face recognition than image distributions along the horizontal axis. Using a novel paradigm involving dynamic image distortions, a series of experiments are presented examining famous face recognition impairments from selectively disrupting image distributions along the vertical or horizontal image axes. Results show that disrupting the image distribution along the vertical image axis is more disruptive for recognition than matched distortions along the horizontal axis. Consistent with the facial barcode hypothesis, these results suggest that human face recognition relies disproportionately on appropriately scaled distributions of image contrast along the vertical image axis.
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