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Motion facilitates face perception across changes in viewpoint and expression in older adults

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Maguinness, C., & Newell, F. N. (2014). Motion facilitates face perception across changes in viewpoint and expression in older adults. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 40(6), 2266-2280. doi:10.1037/a0038124.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0025-6D66-B
Abstract
Faces are inherently dynamic stimuli. However, face perception in younger adults appears to be mediated by the ability to extract structural cues from static images and a benefit of motion is inconsistent. In contrast, static face processing is poorer and more image-dependent in older adults. We therefore compared the role of facial motion in younger and older adults to assess whether motion can enhance perception when static cues are insufficient. In our studies, older and younger adults learned faces presented in motion or in a sequence of static images, containing rigid (viewpoint) or nonrigid (expression) changes. Immediately following learning, participants matched a static test image to the learned face which varied by viewpoint (Experiment 1) or expression (Experiment 2) and was either learned or novel. First, we found an age effect with better face matching performance in younger than in older adults. However, we observed face matching performance improved in the older adult group, across changes in viewpoint and expression, when faces were learned in motion relative to static presentation. There was no benefit for facial (nonrigid) motion when the task involved matching inverted faces (Experiment 3), suggesting that the ability to use dynamic face information for the purpose of recognition reflects motion encoding which is specific to upright faces. Our results suggest that ageing may offer a unique insight into how dynamic cues support face processing, which may not be readily observed in younger adults' performance.