Identity specific adaptation with composite faces

Laurence, Sarah and Hole, Graham J (2012). Identity specific adaptation with composite faces. Visual Cognition, 20(2) pp. 109–120.



A composite face, made from the top half of a celebrity face and the bottom half of an unfamiliar face, appears to be a single, “new” face (e.g., Young, Hellawell, & Hay, 1987). Composite faces were used within the face identity aftereffect (FIAE) paradigm, in which prolonged exposure to a face reduces sensitivity to it (adaptation). Adaptation occurred both with an intact face and with composites containing its upper half, but only when composites were explicitly recognized during the adaptation phase. Unrecognized composites produced no adaptation. These findings imply that the FIAE is a relatively high-level perceptual effect, given that identical stimuli either did or did not produce adaptation depending on whether or not they were recognized. They also suggest a perceptual locus for the “composite face effect”.

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