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Edwin Burns, Joel Martin, Alice Chan, Hong Xu; No emotion adaptation to the low spatial frequencies of hybrid faces in developmental prosopagnosia. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1246. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/16.12.1246.
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Developmental prosopagnosia (DP) is characterized by an inability to recognize faces. Adapting to a stimulus for a few seconds can lead to diminished perceptions of that stimulus's characteristics in following items: for example, viewing a happy face will lead to a subsequently presented face as appearing sadder (Fox & Barton, 2007). When the coarse visual information (low spatial frequencies – LSF) from a happy face is blended with the remaining spatial frequencies of an expressionless face, these hybrid faces are rated as emotionally neutral (Laeng et al., 2010). These LSF are thought to be associated with holistic processing (Goffaux & Rossion, 2006). Here we asked a group of DP cases and neurotypical individuals (NT) to adapt to emotionally neutral faces, happy faces, or hybrid faces and rate subsequently presented test faces that had been morphed to vary from sad to happy. We hypothesized that if DP is associated with deficits in holistic processing of emotion (Palermo et al., 2011), then those with DP should exhibit no adaptation aftereffects to the hybrid faces' LSF. We found that in NT, the happy and hybrid faces produced similar emotion adaptation aftereffects relative to the neutral faces. In contrast, those with DP exhibited emotional aftereffects by adapting to the happy faces, but not the hybrid faces. These results suggest that a large amount of emotion processing in NT appears to occur outside of conscious awareness due to the holistic processing of LSF. By contrast, those with DP appear incapable of this implicit processing of emotion and instead have to identify emotional faces by their featural content alone. These findings suggest that the processing of emotion holistically, and face recognition, to some extent share a common neural pathway.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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