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Faces are represented relative to race-specific norms

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Armann,  RGM
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bülthoff,  I
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Armann, R., Jeffery, L., Calder, A., Bülthoff, I., & Rhodes, G. (2010). Faces are represented relative to race-specific norms. Perception, 39(ECVP Abstract Supplement), 155.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0013-BEFE-B
Abstract
Recent models of face perception often adopt a framework in which faces are represented as points in a multidimensional space, relative to the average face that serves as a norm. Faces share many visual properties and could be encoded in one face space against one single norm. However, certain face properties may result in grouping of similar faces. How faces might be ‘subclassified’ in face space remains thus to be determined. We studied the processing of faces of different races, using high-level aftereffects, where exposure to one face systematically distorts the perception of a subsequently viewed face towards the ‘opposite’ identity in face space. We measured identity aftereffects for adapt-test pairs that were opposite race-specific (Asian and Caucasian) averages and pairs that were opposite a ‘generic’ average (both races morphed together). Aftereffects were larger for race-specific than for generic anti-faces. Since adapt-test pairs that lie opposite each other in face space generate larger aftereffects than non-opposite test pairs, these results suggest that Asian and Caucasian faces are coded using race-specific norms. Moreover, identification (at low identity strength) of the target faces was easier around the race-specific norms than around the generic norm, indicating that norms also have a functional role in face processing.