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Cross-modal Aspect of Face Distinctiveness


Bülthoff,  I
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bülthoff, I. (2003). Cross-modal Aspect of Face Distinctiveness. Poster presented at 6. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 2003), Tübingen, Germany.

Various factors have been identied that in uence face recognition. Despite the diversity of the studies on face recognition, mostly factors related to visual information have been investigated so far. Among factors like facial motion, orientation and illumination, the distinctiveness of faces has been extensively studied. It is well known that distinctive faces are more easily recognized than typical faces in memory tasks. In our study we have addressed the question whether factors that are not of visual nature might also in uence face recognition. More specically, our experimental question was: can visually typical faces become perceptually distinctive when they are accompanied by voice stimuli that are distinctive and can these faces therefore become in this way more easily recognizable? In a training session, participants saw faces from two sets. In one set all faces were accompanied by characteristic auditory stimuli during learning (d-faces: dierent languages, intonations, accents, etc.). In the other set, all faces were accompanied by typical auditory stimuli during learning(s-faces: same words, same language). Face stimuli were counterbalanced across auditory conditions. Face recognition alone was tested. We measured recognition performance in an old/new recognition task. Our results show that participants were signicantly better (t(12) = 3.89, p< 0.005) at recognizing d-faces than s-faces in the test session. Thus, our results demonstrate the perceptual quality of auditory stimuli (distinctive or typical) presented simultaneously with face stimuli can modify face recognition performance in a subsequent memory task and that typicality of stimuli in one modality can be modied by concomitantly presented stimuli in other sensory modalities.