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The time course of processing external and internal features of unfamiliar faces


Schwaninger,  A
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Veres-Injac, B., Hofer, F., & Schwaninger, A. (2007). The time course of processing external and internal features of unfamiliar faces. Poster presented at 30th European Conference on Visual Perception, Arezzo, Italy.

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The time course of processing internal and external features was studied in a face-matching task in which participants had to match target and test faces, which differed in their external (hair and face outlines) or internal features (eyes, nose, mouth), or both. To this end, three different definitions of 'same' were used: same trials were defined as full congruency between target and test faces or as congruency in external or in internal features only. The results of three experiments provide an evidence for very fast matching of faces on the basis of external or internal features. Maximal performance is achieved already with 90 ms exposure time and longer exposure (120 ms, 150 ms, self-determined) time did not improve accuracy. The study suggests that unfamiliar faces can be matched more accurately on the basis of external vs internal features. There is no inversion effect for facial features, while matching of whole faces is impaired by orientation.