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Psychol Res. 2006 Jul;70(4):273-92. Epub 2005 Aug 2.

Face perception: an integrative review of the role of spatial frequencies.

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Department of Psychobiology and Methodology for the Behavioral Sciences, University of Malaga, Campus de Teatinos, 29071 Malaga, Spain.


The aim of this article is to reinterpret the results obtained from the research analyzing the role played by spatial frequencies in face perception. Two main working lines have been explored in this body of research: the critical bandwidth of spatial frequencies that allows face recognition to take place (the masking approach), and the role played by different spatial frequencies while the visual percept is being developed (the microgenetic approach). However, results obtained to date are not satisfactory in that no single explanation accounts for all the data obtained from each of the approaches. We propose that the main factor for understanding the role of spatial frequencies in face perception depends on the interaction between the demands of the task and the information in the image (the diagnostic recognition approach). Using this new framework, we review the most significant research carried out since the early 1970s to provide a reinterpretation of the data obtained.

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