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Vision Res. 2001 Oct;41(23):2979-94.

The size-tuning of the face-distortion after-effect.

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Cognitive Sciences Department, University of California at Irvine, SSPA 3151, Irvine, CA 62697, USA.


Recently, Webster and MacLin demonstrated a face-distortion after-effect (FDAE) for both upright and inverted faces: adaptation to a distorted face makes a normal face appear distorted in the direction opposite to the adapting direction. Neurophysiological studies (e.g. Experimental Brain Research 65 (1986) 38) show that face-selective neurons in the superior temporal sulcus (STS) are remarkably size-invariant in their responses. If the site of adaptation underlying the FDAE is the homologous neuron population in human vision, then the FDAE should also be highly tolerant to changes in size between adapting and test faces. Here, we test this prediction. Observers were adapted to distorted upright/inverted faces of three different sizes (3.3 degrees x 3.7 degrees, 6.6 degrees x 7.5 degrees, and 13.1 degrees x 14.8 degrees ). For adapting faces of all three sizes, observers adjusted test faces of all three sizes until they appeared normal. Significant FDAEs were observed in all conditions. For both upright and inverted faces, FDAEs were approximately twice as strong when adapting and test faces were the same size than when they differed by even a single octave in size. The magnitudes of FDAEs were comparable for upright and inverted faces. The larger FDAEs for same-size adapting and test faces suggest that part of the FDAE derives from a neuron population with narrow size-tuning. However, the significant FDAEs obtained for adapting and test images differing by two octaves implicate a different neuron population with broad size-tuning, possibly the human homolog of the face-selective neuron population in monkey STS.

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