The effect of familiarity on face adaptation

Laurence, Sarah and Hole, Graham (2011). The effect of familiarity on face adaptation. Perception, 40(4) pp. 450–463.



Face aftereffects can provide information on how faces are stored by the human visual system (eg Leopold et al, 2001 Nature Neuroscience 4 89 – 94), but few studies have used robustly represented (highly familiar) faces. In this study we investigated the influence of facial familiarity on adaptation effects. Participants were adapted to a series of distorted faces (their own face, a famous face, or an unfamiliar face). In experiment 1, figural aftereffects were significantly smaller when participants were adapted to their own face than when they were adapted to the other faces (ie their own face appeared significantly less distorted than a famous or unfamiliar face). Experiment 2 showed that this ‘own-face’ effect did not occur when the same faces were used as adaptation stimuli for participants who were unfamiliar with them. Experiment 3 replicated experiment 1, but included a pre-adaptation baseline. The results highlight the importance of considering facial familiarity when conducting research on face aftereffects.

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