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J Vis. 2008 Jan 17;8(1):9.1-10. doi: 10.1167/8.1.9.

More efficient scanning for familiar faces.

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Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Erratum in

  • J Vis. 2010;10(11):30.


The present study reveals changes in eye movement patterns as newly learned faces become more familiar. Observers received multiple exposures to newly learned faces over four consecutive days. Recall tasks were performed on all 4 days, and a recognition task was performed on the fourth day. Eye movement behavior was compared across facial exposure and task type. Overall, the eyes were viewed for longer and more often than any other facial region, regardless of face familiarity. As a face became more familiar, observers made fewer fixations during recall and recognition. With increased exposure, observers sampled more from the eyes and sampled less from the nose, mouth, forehead, chin, and cheek regions. Interestingly, this change in scanning behavior was only observed for recall tasks, but not for recognition.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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