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Jennifer J. Richler, R. Jackie Floyd, Isabel Gauthier; About-face on face recognition ability and holistic processing. Journal of Vision 2015;15(9):15. doi: 10.1167/15.9.15.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Previous work found a small but significant relationship between holistic processing measured with the composite task and face recognition ability measured by the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT; Duchaine & Nakayama, 2006). Surprisingly, recent work using a different measure of holistic processing (Vanderbilt Holistic Face Processing Test [VHPT-F]; Richler, Floyd, & Gauthier, 2014) and a larger sample found no evidence for such a relationship. In Experiment 1 we replicate this unexpected result, finding no relationship between holistic processing (VHPT-F) and face recognition ability (CFMT). A key difference between the VHPT-F and other holistic processing measures is that unique face parts are used on each trial in the VHPT-F, unlike in other tasks where a small set of face parts repeat across the experiment. In Experiment 2, we test the hypothesis that correlations between the CFMT and holistic processing tasks are driven by stimulus repetition that allows for learning during the composite task. Consistent with our predictions, CFMT performance was correlated with holistic processing in the composite task when a small set of face parts repeated over trials, but not when face parts did not repeat. A meta-analysis confirms that relationships between the CFMT and holistic processing depend on stimulus repetition. These results raise important questions about what is being measured by the CFMT, and challenge current assumptions about why faces are processed holistically.
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