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Wonmo Jung, Isabelle Bülthoff, Regine G. M. Armann; The contribution of foveal and peripheral visual information to ensemble representation of face race. Journal of Vision 2017;17(13):11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/17.13.11.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The brain can only attend to a fraction of all the information that is entering the visual system at any given moment. One way of overcoming the so-called bottleneck of selective attention (e.g., J. M. Wolfe, Võ, Evans, & Greene, 2011) is to make use of redundant visual information and extract summarized statistical information of the whole visual scene. Such ensemble representation occurs for low-level features of textures or simple objects, but it has also been reported for complex high-level properties. While the visual system has, for example, been shown to compute summary representations of facial expression, gender, or identity, it is less clear whether perceptual input from all parts of the visual field contributes equally to the ensemble percept. Here we extend the line of ensemble-representation research into the realm of race and look at the possibility that ensemble perception relies on weighting visual information differently depending on its origin from either the fovea or the visual periphery. We find that observers can judge the mean race of a set of faces, similar to judgments of mean emotion from faces and ensemble representations in low-level domains of visual processing. We also find that while peripheral faces seem to be taken into account for the ensemble percept, far more weight is given to stimuli presented foveally than peripherally. Whether this precision weighting of information stems from differences in the accuracy with which the visual system processes information across the visual field or from statistical inferences about the world needs to be determined by further research.
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