Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 363–369 | Cite as

Hemispheric asymmetry in discriminating faces differing for featural or configural (second-order relations) aspects

  • Zaira Cattaneo
  • Chiara Renzi
  • Silvia Bona
  • Lotfi B. Merabet
  • Claus-Christian Carbon
  • Tomaso Vecchi
Brief Report

Abstract

The human capacity to discriminate among different faces relies on distinct parallel subprocesses, based either on the analysis of configural aspects or on the sequential analysis of the single elements of a face. A particular type of configural processing consists of considering whether two faces differ in terms of internal spacing among their features, referred to as second-order relations processing. Findings from electrophysiological, neuroimaging, and lesion studies suggest that, overall, configural processes rely more on the right hemisphere, whereas analysis of single features would involve more the left. However, results are not always consistent, and behavioral evidence for a right-hemisphere specialization in second-order relations processing is lacking. Here, we used divided visual field presentation to investigate the possible different contributions of the two hemispheres to face discrimination based on relational versus featural processing. Our data indicate a right-hemispheric specialization in relational processing of upright (but not inverted) faces. Furthermore, we provide evidence regarding the involvement of both the right and left hemispheres in the processing of faces differing for inner features, suggesting that both analytical and configural modes of processing are at play.

Keywords

Configural Featural Face processing Lateralization Divided visual field Jane faces task 

References

  1. Bourne, V. (2006). The divided visual field paradigm: Methodological considerations. Laterality, 11(4), 373–393.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Freire, A., Lee, K., & Symons, L. A. (2000). The face-inversion effect as a deficit in the encoding of configural information: Direct evidence. Perception, 29(2), 159–170.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hillger, L. A., & Koenig, O. (1991). Separable mechanisms in face processing: Evidence from hemispheric specialization. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 3, 42–58.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Keyes, H. (2012). Categorical perception effects for facial identity in robustly represented familiar and self-faces: The role of configural and featural information. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65(4), 760–772.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Le Grand, R., Mondloch, C. J., Maurer, D., & Brent, H. P. (2001). Neuroperception. Early visual experience and face processing. Nature, 410(6831), 890.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Leder, H., & Carbon, C. C. (2006). Face-specific configural processing of relational information. British Journal of Psychology, 97, 19–29.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lobmaier, J. S., Bolte, J., Mast, F. W., & Dobel, C. (2010). Configural and featural processing in humans with congenital prosopagnosia. Advances in Cognitive Psychology, 6, 23–34.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Macmillan, N. A., & Creelman, C. D. (1991). Detection theory: A user's guide. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Maurer, D., Le Grand, R., & Mondloch, C. (2002). The many faces of configural processing. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6, 255–260.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Maurer, D., O'Craven, K., Le Grand, R., Mondloch, C., Springer, M., Lewis, T., & Grady, C. (2007). Neural correlates of processing facial identity based on features versus their spacing. Neuropsychologia, 45, 1438–1451.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. McKone, E., & Yovel, G. (2009). Why does picture-plane inversion sometimes dissociate perception of features and spacing in faces, and sometimes not? Toward a new theory of holistic processing. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 16(5), 778–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Mercure, E., Dick, F., & Johnson, M. H. (2008). Featural and configural face processing differentially modulate ERP components. Brain Research, 1239, 162–170.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mondloch, C. J., Le Grand, R., & Maurer, D. (2002). Configural face processing develops more slowly than featural face processing. Perception, 31, 553–566.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Oldfield, R. C. (1971). The assessment and analysis of handedness: The Edinburgh inventory. Neuropsychologia, 9(1), 97–113.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Parkin, A. J., & Williamson, P. (1987). Cerebral lateralisation at different stages of facial processing. Cortex, 23(1), 99–110.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Pitcher, D., Walsh, V., Yovel, G., & Duchaine, B. (2007). TMS evidence for the involvement of the right occipital face area in the early face processing. Current Biology, 17(18), 1568–1573.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Rakover, S. S. (2012). A feature-inversion effect: Can an isolated feature show behaviour like the face-inversion effect? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 19(4), 617–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ramon, M., & Rossion, B. (2012). Hemisphere-dependent holistic processing of familiar faces. Brain and Cognition, 78(1), 7–13.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Robbins, R. A., Nishimura, M., Mondloch, C. J., Lewis, T. L., & Maurer, D. (2010). Deficits in sensitivity to spacing after early visual deprivation in humans: A comparison of human faces, monkey faces, and houses. Developmental Psychobiology, 52, 775–781.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rossion, B., Dricot, L., Devolder, A., Bodart, J. M., Crommelinck, M., De Gelber, B., & Zoontjes, R. (2000). Hemispheric asymmetries for whole-based and part-based face processing in the human fusiform gyrus. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 12(5), 793–802.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Rotshtein, P., Geng, J. C. A., Driver, J., & Doland, R. J. (2007). Role of features and second-order spatial relations in face discrimination, face recognition, and individual face skills: Behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging data. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 19(9), 1435–1452.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Scott, L. S., & Nelson, C. A. (2006). Featural and configural face processing in Aadults and infants: A behavioral and electrophysiological investigation. Perception, 35(8), 1107–1128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Tsao, D. Y., & Livingstone, M. S. (2008). Mechanisms of face perception. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 31, 411–437.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Yovel, G., & Kanwisher, N. (2004). Face perception: Domain specific, not process specific. Neuron, 44, 889–898.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Yovel, G., & Kanwisher, N. (2008). The representations of spacing and part-based information are associated for upright faces but dissociated for objects: Evidence from individual differences. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15(5), 933–939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zaira Cattaneo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chiara Renzi
    • 2
  • Silvia Bona
    • 3
  • Lotfi B. Merabet
    • 4
  • Claus-Christian Carbon
    • 5
  • Tomaso Vecchi
    • 2
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanoItaly
  2. 2.Brain Connectivity CenterNational Neurological Institute C. MondinoPaviaItaly
  3. 3.Brain Research Unit, O.V. Lounasmaa Laboratory, School of ScienceAalto UniversityEspooFinland
  4. 4.Department of Ophthalmology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear InfirmaryHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of General Psychology and MethodologyUniversity of BambergBambergGermany
  6. 6.Department of Brain and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly

Personalised recommendations