September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
Are Faces Important for Face Recognition?
Author Affiliations
  • Linoy Schwartz
    Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University
  • Galit Yovel
    Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University School of Psychological Sciences, Tel Aviv University
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 703. doi:
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      Linoy Schwartz, Galit Yovel; Are Faces Important for Face Recognition?. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):703. doi:

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

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Face recognition studies have emphasized the role of rich perceptual experience in underlying both the other race effect - better recognition of own rather than other race faces - as well as our superior recognition of familiar relative to unfamiliar faces. However, recent studies have highlighted the role of individuation in better recognition of own versus other race faces. In this study we therefore examined the role of perceptual exposure and individuation in familiar face recognition. An old-new face recognition task was used in order to assess the sole contribution of each of these factors to the learning of unfamiliar faces: rich perceptual information (viewing a face in different angles and illuminations), simple individuation (association of a face with an uninformative but unique label) and association of a face with person-related semantic information, such as a name or an occupation. During the test phase subjects were presented with faces in different poses and illuminations than those learned during the study phase, together with new faces, and were asked to indicate whether they have seen these people before. The results indicate that mere perceptual information such as viewing a face in different angles and illuminations does not improve face recognition, whereas association of a face with person-related information (e.g., name, occupation) does improve face recognition significantly. This improvement was not generalized to other types of individuations in which a face was associated with unrelated labels such as object names or symbols, or incongruent labels such as opposite-gender names. These findings highlight the important role of person-related semantic information in face recognition. These results further suggest that visual information alone may not contribute to face recognition and it is the conceptual information that we have about faces that significantly contributes to our face recognition abilities.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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