Sensitivity to the displacement of facial features in negative and inverted images

  • Kemp R
  • McManus C
  • Pigott T
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Subjects have previously been reported to show difficulties in recognising faces which are either inverted or in photographic negative. Experiments are reported in which a two-alternative forced-choice technique was used to measure sensitivity for distinguishing faces which have been modified by having the eyes moved vertically or horizontally. Subjects were less sensitive to such changes for inverted faces or negative faces, and were even less sensitive for faces that were both inverted and negative. No such effects were found for a control stimulus consisting simply of three solid circles in the same positions as the eyes and mouth of a face. When the stimuli consisted of eyes, nose, and mouth, but without a surround, no evidence of inversion or negation effects was found, which suggests that a facial surround is necessary. When the stimulus consisted of a facial surround with the eyes, nose, and mouth replaced by solid circles, effects of negation were found, but no effects of inversion. This dissociation of the effects of negation and inversion may suggest that they are the result of different underlying mechanisms.

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  • R. Kemp

  • C. McManus

  • T. Pigott

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