September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
The Use of Eyebrows as a Visual Feature
Author Affiliations
  • Jacqueline Castro
    California State University, Fullerton
  • Jessie Peissig
    California State University, Fullerton
  • Cindy Bukach
    University of Richmond
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 151. doi:
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      Jacqueline Castro, Jessie Peissig, Cindy Bukach; The Use of Eyebrows as a Visual Feature. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):151.

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

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Previous research suggests that although faces are processed holistically, concealing or erasing parts of the face impairs recognition. Recent research suggests that eyebrows play a key role in facial recognition (Sadr, Jarudi, & Sinha, 2003). What has yet to be understood is what exactly that role is. Eyebrows may serve as placeholders, to measure spatial distances within the face (White, 2004). If so, then changing eyebrows will have no effect on recognition, so long as the eyebrows remain in the same position. Eyebrows may also be used as recognition features of the face. If this is the case, altering eyebrows will impair recognition. Seventy-two participants were tested with faces on a same/different task. Participants were presented with two faces sequentially and reported whether the two individuals were the same or different. There were four conditions for the two faces presented: Same faces (no changes), different faces (no changes), same faces with different eyebrows, or different faces with the same eyebrows. When eyebrows were replaced, the new eyebrows were placed in the same position as the original eyebrows. Testing consisted of 320 trials, 80 trials in each condition. It was expected that if eyebrows are used as a feature for recognition, then having different eyebrows on the same trials and the same eyebrows on different trials should both yield poorer performance. Results confirmed these predictions (see Figure 1), showing a significant difference between same trials with the original face and same trials with changed eyebrows. We also found a significant difference between different trials with the original faces and different trials in which the eyebrows were the same. These results show that participants attend not only to the location of the eyebrows but also their visual appearance, suggesting that they could serve a role as visual feature of face recognition.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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