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Iperception. 2010;1(2):103-20. doi: 10.1068/i0393. Epub 2010 Nov 5.

Recognition and eye movements with partially hidden pictures of faces and cars in different orientations.

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School of Psychology, University of Dundee, Dundee, DD1 4HN, UK; e-mail:


Inverted faces are more difficult to identify than upright ones. This even applies when pictures of faces are partially hidden in geometrical designs so that it takes some seconds to recognise them. Similar, though not as pronounced, orientation preferences apply to familiar objects. We compared the recognition times and patterns of eye movements for two sets of familiar symmetrical objects. Pictures of faces and of cars were embedded in patterns of concentric circles in order to render them difficult to recognise. They were presented in four orientations, at 90° intervals from upright. Two experiments were conducted with the same set of stimuli; experiment 1 required participants to respond in terms of faces or cars, and in experiment 2 responses were made to the orientation of the embedded image independently of its class. Upright faces were recognised more accurately and faster than those in other orientations; fixation durations were longer for upright faces even before recognition. These results applied to both experiments. Orientation effects for cars were not pronounced and distinctions between 90°, 180°, and 270° embedded images were not consistent; this was the case in both experiments.


cars; eye movements; face recognition; hidden figures; inverted faces

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