Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 58, Issue 4, pp 602–612

Effects of high-pass and low-pass spatial filtering on face identification


  • Nicholas P. Costen
    • University of Aberdeen
  • Denis M. Parker
    • University of Aberdeen
  • Ian Craw
    • University of Aberdeen

DOI: 10.3758/BF03213093

Cite this article as:
Costen, N.P., Parker, D.M. & Craw, I. Perception & Psychophysics (1996) 58: 602. doi:10.3758/BF03213093


If face images are degraded by block averaging, there is a nonlinear decline in recognition accuracy as block size increases, suggesting that identification requires a critical minimum range of object spatial frequencies. The identification of faces was measured with equivalent Fourier low-pass filtering and block averaging preserving the same information and with high-pass transformations. In Experiment 1, accuracy declined and response time increased in a significant nonlinear manner in all cases as the spatial-frequency range was reduced. However, it did so at a faster rate for the quantized and high-passed images. A second experiment controlled for the differences in the contrast of the high-pass faces and found a reduced but significant and nonlinear decline in performance as the spatial-frequency range was reduced. These data suggest that face identification is preferentially supported by a band of spatial frequencies of approximately 8-16 cycles per face; contrast or line-based explanations were found to be inadequate. The data are discussed in terms of current models of face identification.

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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1996