Memory & Cognition

, Volume 35, Issue 8, pp 1966–1976

Adaptation effects of highly familiar faces: Immediate and long lasting


    • Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of Vienna
  • Tilo Strobach
    • Humboldt University Berlin
  • Stephen R. H. Langton
    • University of Stirling
  • Géza Harsányi
    • Humboldt University Berlin
  • Helmut Leder
    • Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of Vienna
  • Gyula Kovács
    • University of Regensburg
    • Budapest University of Technology and Economics

DOI: 10.3758/BF03192929

Cite this article as:
Carbon, C., Strobach, T., Langton, S.R.H. et al. Mem Cogn (2007) 35: 1966. doi:10.3758/BF03192929


A central problem of face identification is forming stable representations from entities that vary—both in a rigid and nonrigid manner—over time, under different viewing conditions, and with altering appearances. Three experiments investigated the underlying mechanism that is more flexible than has often been supposed. The experiments used highly familiar faces that were first inspected as configurally manipulated versions. When participants had to select the veridical version (known from TV/media/movies) out of a series of gradually altered versions, their selections were biased toward the previously inspected manipulated versions. This adaptation effect (face identity aftereffect, Leopold, Rhodes, Müller, & Jeffery, 2005) was demonstrated even for a delay of 24h between inspection and test phase. Moreover, the inspection of a specific image version of a famous person not only changed the veridicality decision of the same image, but also transferred to other images of this person as well. Thus, this adaptation effect is apparently not based on simple pictorial grounds, but appears to have a rather structural basis. Importantly, as indicated by Experiment 3, the adaptation effect was not based on a simple averaging mechanism or an episodic memory effect, but on identity-specific information.

Download to read the full article text

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2007