September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
Dissociating unfamiliar and familiar face discrimination processes over the course of natural familiarization
Author Affiliations
  • Alison Campbell
    University of Victoria, Canada
  • James Tanaka
    University of Victoria, Canada
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 1234. doi:
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      Alison Campbell, James Tanaka; Dissociating unfamiliar and familiar face discrimination processes over the course of natural familiarization. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1234.

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

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Whereas most studies in the face processing literature have focused on either the perception of unfamiliar faces or the recognition of familiar faces, far fewer studies have investigated the processes by which an unfamiliar face becomes familiar. Here, we examined the emergence of face familiarity as a result of natural socialization. The brain responses of student participants enrolled in a small seminar course were recorded using fast periodic visual stimulation (FPVS) before meeting (pre-familiarization) and after 8-weeks of socialization (post-familiarization). Experimental stimuli consisted of participant and non-participant faces displaying a range of poses and expressions. At each test time, seminar participants viewed a stream of non-participant faces presented at 6 Hz with a participant face embedded every 7 images (0.86 Hz). In the converse condition, a 6 Hz stream of participant faces was embedded with a non-participant face every 7 images (0.86 Hz). Pre-familiarization, when peer and non-peer faces are equally unfamiliar, the visual stimulation in both conditions elicits a response at 6 Hz related to processing unfamiliar faces. However, after participant faces had become familiarized, effects pertaining to the differential familiarity of participant and non-participant faces began to emerge. In the post-familiarization test, the presentation rate of participant faces (0.86Hz) in the first condition elicited greater amplitudes approaching significance in high level visual areas only, reflecting increased familiarity of participant faces. By contrast, when participant faces are no longer unfamiliar, brain responses reflecting unfamiliar face processing should emerge in the alternative condition at the presentation rate of non-participant faces (0.86 Hz). Consistent with this, a robust increase in amplitudes at the 0.86 Hz frequency was observed post-familiarization, but in fronto-central sites only. Thus, by manipulating the personal familiarity of faces, we find differential brain regions involved in familiar compared to unfamiliar face discrimination

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018


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