December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
Saccadic Race to Neural Face Responses
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Peter de Lissa
    University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Roberto Caldara
    University of Fribourg, Switzerland
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  Funding for this project was provided by the Swiss National Science Foundation, grant number- 100019_189018
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 3922. doi:
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      Peter de Lissa, Roberto Caldara; Saccadic Race to Neural Face Responses. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):3922.

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

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Our visual system is very fast and efficient at extracting socially-relevant information from faces we encounter, through central foveal vision as well as in extrafoveal visual fields. Recently, it was shown that race information is extracted very quickly after extrafoveal presentation, leading to reliable saccadic race-categorization responses as early as 200 ms after presentation (de Lissa et al., 2021). While such a fast reaction time suggests that race is extracted in very early stages of perceptual processing, we do not yet have a clear view of the neural activity immediately preceding such overt categorization responses. To this aim, we recorded electroencephalography (EEG) and eye-movements together while participants categorized East Asian (EA) and Western Caucasian (WC) faces, normalized for spatial frequency, spectra and contrast, according to race in a saccadic-choice paradigm. Replicating previous behavioural results and data analyses with Bayes Factors, WC observers were faster to make race-categorization saccades to other- (EA) than to same-race (WC) faces. Surprisingly, EEG recorded during the task revealed higher P1 amplitudes with similar latency in response to same- than other-race faces in occipito-temporal scalp regions. In contrast, later N170 responses to EA and WC faces were not modulated by stimulus race in either amplitude or latency. The early extrafoveal P1 effect in the race-categorization paradigm supports the assertion that race can be extracted in the earlier stages of face perception, and may reflect a mixture of attentional mechanisms interacting with differences in the saliency of race features. These results show how the perception of race may be shaped by experience-driven neural tuning to either emphasize or de-emphasize the relevance of race features. Such very early extrafoveal neural signatures for same-race faces represents a novel twist in the field, significantly feeding the debate on the many visual and social processes related to the extraction of race.


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