September 2017
Volume 17, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2017
The speed of continuous face detection suggests shortcuts in the visual hierarchy for upright faces
Author Affiliations
  • Jacob Martin
    CerCo, CNRS
  • Charles Davis
    CerCo, CNRS
  • Maximilian Riesenhuber
    Department of Neuroscience, Georgetown University Medical Center
  • Simon Thorpe
    CerCo, CNRS
Journal of Vision August 2017, Vol.17, 20. doi:
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      Jacob Martin, Charles Davis, Maximilian Riesenhuber, Simon Thorpe; The speed of continuous face detection suggests shortcuts in the visual hierarchy for upright faces. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):20. doi:

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

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The detection of faces in the visual field is a key cognitive task of high ecological importance. While a number of studies have shown human subjects' impressive ability to detect faces in individual images, we here report evidence that subjects are able to rapidly saccade towards 4000 faces continuously at rates approaching 6 faces a second when there is no background (including the time for blinks and eye movements). Surprisingly, pasting or hiding the faces by blending them into a large background pictures had little effect on detection rates, saccade reaction times, or accuracy. Saccade reaction times were similar to the "ultra-rapid" saccades found in studies which utilized pauses and fixations between experimental trials (Crouzet et al. 2010). Upright faces were found more quickly and more accurately than inverted faces; both with and without a cluttered background, and over a large range of eccentricities (4°-16°). These results argue for the existence of a face-selective shortcut in the visual hierarchy which enables ultra-rapid and high-throughput face detection.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017


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