September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
Speeded Breakthrough of Faces in Interocular Suppression Requires Configural Information
Author Affiliations
  • Katherine Wood
    University of California Berkeley
  • Anna Kosovicheva
    University of California Berkeley
  • Benjamin Wolfe
    University of California Berkeley
  • David Whitney
    University of California Berkeley
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 148. doi:
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      Katherine Wood, Anna Kosovicheva, Benjamin Wolfe, David Whitney; Speeded Breakthrough of Faces in Interocular Suppression Requires Configural Information. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):148.

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

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The face inversion effect, wherein an upright face is recognized more readily than an inverted one, is well-documented (Yin, 1969; Maurer et al., 2002; Epstein et al., 2006). It has also been observed under interocular suppression (IOS), a technique in which a stimulus is presented to one eye, while the other eye views high-contrast, dynamic noise, rendering the low-contrast stimulus invisible. When the suppressed stimulus increases in contrast, it eventually becomes visible; upright faces “break through” faster—they require lower contrast to overcome suppression (Jiang et al., 2007). What information contributes to this speeded conscious access to upright versus inverted faces remains undetermined. To investigate this, we performed two experiments using IOS as described above. In Experiment 1, subjects viewed three categories of either upright or inverted faces (two-tone Mooney faces (Mooney, 1957), emoticons, and grayscale photorealistic faces) under IOS, and we measured breakthrough times. We found that photorealistic faces and emoticons exhibit a significant inversion effect (p = .04), but Mooney faces do not. This difference suggests that some information about the face other than the holistic percept is required for speeded breakthrough. In Experiment 2, we investigated whether configural or featural information about the face is required. Subjects viewed photorealistic faces under IOS, with either configural or featural information preserved. We found that the configurally intact face was not significantly different from the unmodified face, but the face lacking configural information was significantly slower to break through than both the configurally intact face (p = .006) and the unmodified face (p < .001). Thus, it is configural information that gains speeded access to awareness under IOS, and not holistic or feature-based information. This also suggests that IOS is resolved before the stage at which Mooney faces are recognized, supporting dissociable stages of processing for Mooney versus photorealistic faces.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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