Misaligned and Polarity-Reversed Faces Determine Face-specific Capacity Limits

Thoma, Volker; Ward, Neil and De Fockert, J. W.. 2016. Misaligned and Polarity-Reversed Faces Determine Face-specific Capacity Limits. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1470. ISSN 1664-1078 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Previous research using flanker paradigms suggests that peripheral distracter faces are automatically processed when participants have to classify a single central familiar target face. These distracter interference effects disappear when the central task contains additional anonymous (non-target) faces that load the search for the face target, but not when the central task contains additional non-face stimuli, suggesting there are face-specific capacity limits in visual processing. Here we tested whether manipulating the format of non-target faces in the search task affected face-specific capacity limits. Experiment 1 replicated earlier findings that a distracter face is processed even in high load conditions when participants looked for a target name of a famous person among additional names (non-targets) in a central search array. Two further experiments show that when targets and non-targets were faces (instead of names), however, distracter interference was eliminated under high load—adding non-target faces to the search array exhausted processing capacity for peripheral faces. The novel finding was that replacing non-target faces with images that consisted of two horizontally misaligned face-parts reduced distracter processing. Similar results were found when the polarity of a non-target face image was reversed. These results indicate that face-specific capacity limits are not determined by the configural properties of face processing, but by face parts.

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attention, face perception, perceptual load, capacity limits, flanker paradigm, holistic processing, polarity reversal

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12 September 2016Accepted
27 September 2016Published

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Date Deposited:

29 Sep 2016 13:10

Last Modified:

03 Aug 2021 15:03

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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