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PLoS One. 2013 Apr 10;8(4):e58253. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058253. Print 2013.

Individual differences in holistic processing predict the own-race advantage in recognition memory.

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1
Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC), Boston Division VA Healthcare System, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, United States of America. degutis@wjh.harvard.edu

Abstract

Individuals are consistently better at recognizing own-race faces compared to other-race faces (other-race effect, ORE). One popular hypothesis is that this recognition memory ORE is caused by differential own- and other-race holistic processing, the simultaneous integration of part and configural face information into a coherent whole. Holistic processing may create a more rich, detailed memory representation of own-race faces compared to other-race faces. Despite several studies showing that own-race faces are processed more holistically than other-race faces, studies have yet to link the holistic processing ORE and the recognition memory ORE. In the current study, we sought to use a more valid method of analyzing individual differences in holistic processing by using regression to statistically remove the influence of the control condition (part trials in the part-whole task) from the condition of interest (whole trials in the part-whole task). We also employed regression to separately examine the two components of the ORE: own-race advantage (regressing other-race from own-race performance) and other-race decrement (regressing own-race from other-race performance). First, we demonstrated that own-race faces were processed more holistically than other-race faces, particularly the eye region. Notably, using regression, we showed a significant association between the own-race advantage in recognition memory and the own-race advantage in holistic processing and that these associations were weaker when examining the other-race decrement. We also demonstrated that performance on own- and other-race faces across all of our tasks was highly correlated, suggesting that the differences we found between own- and other-race faces are quantitative rather than qualitative. Together, this suggests that own- and other-race faces recruit largely similar mechanisms, that own-race faces more thoroughly engage holistic processing, and that this greater engagement of holistic processing is significantly associated with the own-race advantage in recognition memory.

PMID:
23593119
PMCID:
PMC3622684
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0058253
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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