PEG Bestelmeyer, BC Jones, LM DeBruine, AC Little & LLM Welling (2010). Face aftereffects demonstrate interdependent processing of expressions and the invariant characteristics of sex and race. Visual Cognition, 18(2): 255-274. doi: 10.1080/13506280802708024

An important issue for face processing is the extent to which invariant aspects of faces (e.g. identity, sex, race) and changeable social signals (e.g. expressions) are processed interdependently. While many previous studies have used Garner's selective attention paradigm to demonstrate interdependent processing of facial identity and expressions, evidence for interdependent processing of invariant aspects of facial appearance and expressions is relatively scare. Using a visual adaptation paradigm, we demonstrate that expression aftereffects can be simultaneously induced in opposite directions for male and female faces (e.g. adaptation to angry male faces and fearful female faces decreased sensitivity to anger in male faces and fear in female faces). Furthermore, a second experiment showed that expression aftereffects can be simultaneously induced in opposite directions for East Asian male and Black African male faces. These findings for sex- and race-contingent expression aftereffects demonstrate that expressions and invariant physical aspects faces can be processed interdependently and are consistent with models of face perception that emphasize the integrative nature of the face processing system.

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