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Br J Psychol. 2012 Nov;103(4):520-38. doi: 10.1111/j.2044-8295.2011.02091.x. Epub 2012 Jan 4.

Aberrant first fixations when looking at inverted faces in various poses: the result of the centre-of-gravity effect?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK.


Face recognition is essential in everyday human life, and all faces are encountered in different poses. However, when a face is inverted, difficulties arise for recognition and eye movements may (Barton, Radcliffe, Cherkasova, Edleman, & Intriligator, 2006) or may not be disrupted (Williams & Henderson, 2007). The present study explored the effects of orientation and pose on recognition and eye movements during a standard old/new recognition task in order to resolve whether inversion disrupts eye movements. Eye-tracking data looked at the first fixations, the number of fixations, and the duration of fixations over a face. A standard inversion effect was observed, but the three-quarter view advantage was not observed. Eye-movement data revealed that the eyes were the most sampled feature (in terms of first fixation, number of fixations, and duration of fixation) for all upright faces, however, other features were sampled first for inverted faces. These results are consistent with Barton et al.'s (2006) but not Williams and Henderson's (2007) findings: possible explanations for this are discussed with the caveat that the same images were used from learning to test.

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