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Teresa Canas-Bajo, David Whitney; Foveal selectivity in holistic processing of Mooney faces. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):432. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.432.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Humans are remarkably sensitive to peripheral faces, which indicates that face recognition processes operate across the visual field. However, it remains unclear whether face recognition sensitivity varies across eccentricity depending on the degree to which holistic templates are required. To investigate foveal and peripheral sensitivity in holistic processing, we tested subjects on a gender discrimination task using 90 Mooney faces (stimuli extracted from Schwiedrzik, Melloni, & Schurger, 2018), which are readily perceived as faces despite lacking low-level segmentable face-specific features. In an independent experiment, the Mooney faces were divided into two operational groups depending on the extent to which they require holistic processing: those faces that tap relatively more into holistic processing and those faces that tap relatively less into holistic processing. We then compared performance in the fovea and at different eccentricities across the peripheral visual field. Faces that relied less on holistic processing were recognized easier and more or less unimpaired up to an eccentricity of twelve degrees. On the other hand, highly holistic novel faces were uniquely more difficult to recognize in the periphery. This suggests that there are more concentrated holistic templates in the foveal region. Weaker holistic peripheral processing and a slight asymmetry favoring holistic processing in the left visual field (right hemisphere) replicates prior work (Ramon, Meike, Rossion, 2012). In addition to this, we found that adding face flankers interfered with holistic face recognition and delayed it, replicating and extending prior work (Farzin, Rivera & Whitney, 2009). Taken together, our results show a foveal selectivity of holistic processing. Future work should investigate whether training individual face identities may mitigate the holistic disadvantage found in the periphery.
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