September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
How holistic processing of faces relates to cognitive control and intelligence
Author Affiliations
  • Isabel Gauthier
    Psychology Department, Vanderbilt University
  • Kao-Wei Chua
    Psychology Department, New York University
  • Jennifer Richler
    Psychology Department, Vanderbilt University
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 934. doi:
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      Isabel Gauthier, Kao-Wei Chua, Jennifer Richler; How holistic processing of faces relates to cognitive control and intelligence. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):934.

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

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The Vanderbilt Holistic Processing Test for faces (VHPT-F) was designed to measure individual differences in holistic processing. The test measures failures of selective attention to face parts, an operational definition of holistic processing that has been challenged by the suggestion that it may tap more general control mechanisms that yield congruency effects in Stroop and Flanker paradigms. We explore the relations between holistic processing of faces and measures of cognitive control that are also operationalized using congruency effects. Because other work finds a relation between intelligence and selection processes that are either lower level (motion perception) or higher level (working memory) than holistic processing of faces, we also measured intelligence. We report data from 130 subjects on the VHPT-F, several Stroop and Flanker tasks, and measures of fluid IQ. Five of our six Stroop and flanker tasks provided minimally reliable congruency effects in accuracy, but not in response times. We found non-negligible shared variance among these cognitive control tasks, in zero-order correlations and in a principal component analysis. Neither of these analyses suggested any shared variance between the congruency effects in the VHPT-F and measures of cognitive control. Zero-order correlations. The PCA on accuracy in each individual condition grouped performance in the VHPT-F task with accuracy in flanker tasks, more than that in Stroop tasks. This is consistent with the idea that holistic processing depends on attention-dependent mechanisms that can integrate spatially separated face parts rather than on undifferentiated holistic representations. Variability on the VHPT-F was also not correlated with Fluid IQ. Our results suggest that to the degree that there are control mechanisms common across cognitive control tasks, they do not appear to be responsible for variability in congruency effects in the VHPT-f, despite robust congruency effects in all cases.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018


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