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Cognition. 2011 May;119(2):216-28. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2011.01.011. Epub 2011 Feb 12.

Identity-specific face adaptation effects: evidence for abstractive face representations.

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School of Psychology, School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9QH, UK.


The effects of selective adaptation on familiar face perception were examined. After prolonged exposure to photographs of a celebrity, participants saw a series of ambiguous morphs that were varying mixtures between the face of that person and a different celebrity. Participants judged fewer of the morphs to resemble the celebrity to which they had been adapted, implying that they were now less sensitive to that particular face. Similar results were obtained when the adapting faces were highly dissimilar in viewpoint to the test morphs; when they were presented upside-down; or when they were vertically stretched to three times their normal height. These effects rule out explanations of adaptation effects solely in terms of low-level image-based adaptation. Instead they are consistent with the idea that relatively viewpoint-independent, person-specific adaptation occurred, at the level of either the "Face Recognition Units" or "Person Identity Nodes" in Burton, Bruce and Johnston's (1990) model of face recognition.

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