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Marco A. Sama, Adrian Nestor, Jonathan S. Cant; Independence of viewpoint and identity in face ensemble processing. Journal of Vision 2019;19(5):2. doi: 10.1167/19.5.2.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Ensemble encoding refers to the visual system's ability to extract a summary representation from multiple items in a set—such as the mean identity of faces in a crowd—circumventing capacity limitations in visual working memory. In the present study we investigated face ensemble representations of higher level identity and lower level viewpoint with the aim of elucidating the extent of their overlap or independence. To this end, we used ensemble displays consisting of six face stimuli which could vary in identity, viewpoint, or both. Across three experiments, participants were asked to report an average identity, a single identity, an average viewpoint, or a single viewpoint, as cued by a central probe face following a stimulus display. In Experiment 1, we observed a dissociation between the processing of identity and viewpoint, as well as between average- and single-viewpoint extraction. Experiment 2 showed viewpoint-invariant identity processing across a wide range of mean viewpoints, spanning 120°. In Experiment 3, accuracy in reporting a response-relevant attribute was unaffected by changes in an irrelevant attribute. Participants were also capable of extracting both attributes simultaneously with little change in accuracy. Taken together, these results argue for the independence of identity and viewpoint in face ensemble processing.
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