Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 226, Issue 4, pp 513–523 | Cite as

Learning to recognize face shapes through serial exploration

  • Christian Wallraven
  • Lisa Whittingstall
  • Heinrich H. Bülthoff
Research Article

Abstract

Human observers are experts at visual face recognition due to specialized visual mechanisms for face processing that evolve with perceptual expertize. Such expertize has long been attributed to the use of configural processing, enabled by fast, parallel information encoding of the visual information in the face. Here we tested whether participants can learn to efficiently recognize faces that are serially encoded—that is, when only partial visual information about the face is available at any given time. For this, ten participants were trained in gaze-restricted face recognition in which face masks were viewed through a small aperture controlled by the participant. Tests comparing trained with untrained performance revealed (1) a marked improvement in terms of speed and accuracy, (2) a gradual development of configural processing strategies, and (3) participants’ ability to rapidly learn and accurately recognize novel exemplars. This performance pattern demonstrates that participants were able to learn new strategies to compensate for the serial nature of information encoding. The results are discussed in terms of expertize acquisition and relevance for other sensory modalities relying on serial encoding.

Keywords

Face recognition Face processing strategies Perceptual expertize Learning Serial encoding 

References

  1. Boutsen L, Humphreys GW (2003) The effect of inversion on the encoding of normal and ‘thatcherized’ faces. Q J Exp Psychol 56A(6):955–975Google Scholar
  2. Brainard DH (1997) The psychophysics toolbox. Spat Vis 10:433–436PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Carey S, Diamond R (1977) From piecemeal to configurational representation of faces. Science 195:312–314PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Collishaw SM, Hole GJ (2000) Featural and configurational processes in the recognition of faces of different familiarity. Perception 29(8):893–909PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dahl CD, Wallraven C, Bülthoff HH, Logothetis NK (2009) Humans and macaques employ similar face-processing strategies. Curr Biol 19:509–513PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dalrymple KA, Bischof WF, Cameron D, Barton JJ, Kingstone A (2010) Simulating simultanagnosia: spatially constricted vision mimics local capture and the global processing deficit. Exp Brain Res 202(2):445–455PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dalrymple KA, Birmingham E, Bischof WF, Barton JJ, Kingstone A (2011) Experiencing simultanagnosia through windowed viewing of complex social scenes. Brain Res 1367:265–277PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. De Gelder B, Rouw R (2000) Paradoxical configuration effects for faces and objects in prosopagnosia. Neuropsychologia 38:1271–1279PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Diamond R, Carey S (1986) Why faces are and are not special: an effect of expertise. J Exp Psychol Gen 115:107–117PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dopjans L, Wallraven C, Bülthoff HH (2009) Cross-modal transfer in visual and haptic face recognition. IEEE Trans Haptics 2:236–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dopjans L, Bülthoff HH, Wallraven C (2012) Serial exploration of faces: comparing vision and touch. J Vis 12(1):6Google Scholar
  12. Farah MJ, Wilson KD, Drain HM, Tanaka JR (1995) The inverted face inversion effect in prosopagnosia: evidence for mandatory, face-specific perceptual mechanisms. Vis Res 35(14):2089–2093PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Freire A, Lee K, Symons LA (2000) The face-inversion effect as a deficit in the encoding of configural information: direct evidence. Perception 29:159–170PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gauthier I, Tarr MJ (1997) Becoming a ‘Greeble’ expert: exploring the face recognition mechanism. Vis Res 37:1673–1682PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gauthier I, Tarr MJ (2002) Unraveling mechanisms for expert object recognition: bridging brain activity and behavior. J Exp Psychol Human Learn Memory 28:432–446Google Scholar
  16. Gauthier I, Williams P, Tarr MJ, Tanaka JW (1998) Training ‘greeble’ experts: a framework for studying expert object recognition processes. Vis Res 38:2401–2428PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gauthier I, Behrmann M, Tarr MJ (1999a) Can face recognition really be dissociated from object recognition? J Cognit Neurosci 11:349–370CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gauthier I, Tarr MJ, Anderson A, Skudlarski P, Gore JC (1999b) Activation of the middle fusiform ‘face area’ increases with expertise in recognizing novel objects. Nat Neurosci 2:568–573PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gold JM, Mundy PJ, Tjan BS (2012) The perception of a face is no more than the sum of its parts. Psychol Sci. doi:10.1177/0956797611427407 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Hay DC, Cox R (2000) Developmental changes in the recognition of faces and facial features. Infant Child Dev 9:199–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hole GJ (1994) Configurational factors in the perception of unfamiliar faces. Perception 23(1):64–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ikeda M, Uchikawa K (1978) Integrating time for visual pattern perception and a comparison with the tactile mode. Vis Res 18:1565–1571PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jiang F, Blanz V, Rossion B (2011) Holistic processing of shape cues in face identification: evidence from face inversion, composite faces, and acquired prosopagnosia. Visual Cognit 19(8):1003–1034CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lakatos S, Marks L (1999) Haptic form perception: relative salience of local and global features. Percept Psychophys 61(5):895–908PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Leder H, Bruce V (2000) When inverted faces are recognized: the role of configural information in face recognition. Q J Exp Psychol 53A:513–536Google Scholar
  26. Loomis JM, Lederman SJ (1986) Tactual perception. In: Boff KR, Kaufman L, Thomas JP (eds) Handbook of perception and human performances, vol 2, cognitive processes and performance. Wiley, New York, pp 31/1–31/41Google Scholar
  27. Loomis JM, Klatzky RL, Lederman SJ (1991) Similarity of tactual and visual picture recognition with limited field of view. Perception 20:167–177PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Malpass RS, Lavigueur H, Weldon DE (1973) Verbal and visual training in face recognition. Percept Psychophys 14:283–292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Maurer D, LeGrand R, Mondloch CJ (2002) The many faces of configural processing. Trends Cognit Sci 6:255–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McKone E, Kanwisher N, Duchaine BC (2006) Can generic expertise explain special processing for faces? Trends Cognit Sci 11(1):8–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mondloch CJ, Geldart S, Maurer D, LeGrand R (2003) Developmental changes in face processing skills. J Exp Child Psychol 86:67–84PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. O’Toole AJ, Vetter T, Blanz V (1999) Three-dimensional shape and two-dimensional surface reflectance contributions to face recognition: an application of three-dimensional morphing. Vis Res 39:3145–3155PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Palmeri TJ, Cottrell GW (2010) Modeling perceptual expertise. In: Gauthier I, Tarr MJ, Bub D (eds) Perceptual expertise: bridging brain activity and behavior. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  34. Pelli DG (1997) The VideoToolbox software for visual psychophysics: transforming numbers into movies. Spat Vis 10:437–442PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pellicano E, Rhodes G (2003) Holistic processing of faces in preschool children and adults. Psychol Sci 14:618–622PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Reed CL, Stone VE, Bozova S, Tanaka J (2003) The body-inversion effect. Psychol Sci 14(4):302–308PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Robbins R, McKone E (2003) Can holistic processing be learned for inverted faces? Cognition 88:79–107PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Russell R, Biederman I, Nederhouser M, Sinha P (2007) The utility of surface reflectance for the recognition of upright and inverted faces. Vis Res 47:157–165PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Schwaninger A, Wallraven C, Cunningham DW, Chiller-Glaus S (2006) Processing of identity and emotion in faces: a psychophysical, physiological and computational perspective. Prog Brain Res 156:321–343PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schwarzer G (2000) Development of face processing: the effect of face inversion. Child Dev 71:391–401PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Scott LS, Tanaka J, Sheinberg DL, Curran T (2006) A reevaluation of the electrophysiological correlates of expert object processing. J Cognit Neurosci 18:1453–1465CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Scott LS, Tanaka JW, Sheinberg DL, Curran T (2008) The role of category learning in the acquisition and retention of perceptual expertise: a behavioral and neurophysiological study. Brain Res 1210:204–215PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Searcy JH, Bartlett JC (1996) Inversion and processing of component and spatial-relational information of faces. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 22:43–47Google Scholar
  44. Sekuler AB, Gaspar CM, Gold JM, Bennett PJ (2004) Inversion leads to quantitative not qualitative, changes in face processing. Curr Biol 14(5):391–396PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sergent J (1984) An investigation into component and configural processes underlying face perception. Br J Psychol 75(2):221–242PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tanaka JW, Farah MJ (1993) Parts and wholes in face recognition. Q J Exp Psychol 12:242–248Google Scholar
  47. Tanaka JW, Sengco J (1997) Features and their configuration in face recognition. Memory Cognit 25:583–592CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Tarr MJ, Pinker S (1989) Mental rotation and orientation-dependence in shape recognition. Cogn Psychol 21(2):233–282PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Troje NF, Bülthoff HH (1996) Face recognition under varying pose: the role of texture and shape. Vis Res 36:1761–1771PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Valentine T (1988) Upside-down faces: a review of the effects of inversion upon face recognition. Br J Psychol 79:471–491PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Van Belle G, De Graef P, Verfaillie K, Rossion B, Lefèvre P (2010) Face inversion impairs holistic perception: evidence from gaze-contingent stimulation. J Vis 10:1–13Google Scholar
  52. Wong ACN, Palmeri T, Gauthier I (2009) Conditions for face-like expertise with objects: becoming a Ziggerin expert—but which type? Psychol Sci 20(9):1109–1117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Yin RK (1969) Looking at upside-down faces. J Exp Psychol 81:141–145CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Yip A, Sinha P (2002) Role of color in face recognition. Perception 31:995–1003PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Wallraven
    • 1
  • Lisa Whittingstall
    • 2
  • Heinrich H. Bülthoff
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Brain and Cognitive EngineeringKorea University Anam-Dong 5gaSeoulKorea
  2. 2.Department of Human Perception, Cognition and ActionMax Planck Institute for Biological CyberneticsTübingenGermany

Personalised recommendations