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Psychon Bull Rev. 2014 Feb;21(1):47-70. doi: 10.3758/s13423-013-0449-5.

Not just the norm: exemplar-based models also predict face aftereffects.

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Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, 111 21st Avenue South, 301 Wilson Hall, Nashville, TN, 37240, USA,


The face recognition literature has considered two competing accounts of how faces are represented within the visual system: Exemplar-based models assume that faces are represented via their similarity to exemplars of previously experienced faces, while norm-based models assume that faces are represented with respect to their deviation from an average face, or norm. Face identity aftereffects have been taken as compelling evidence in favor of a norm-based account over an exemplar-based account. After a relatively brief period of adaptation to an adaptor face, the perceived identity of a test face is shifted toward a face with attributes opposite to those of the adaptor, suggesting an explicit psychological representation of the norm. Surprisingly, despite near universal recognition that face identity aftereffects imply norm-based coding, there have been no published attempts to simulate the predictions of norm- and exemplar-based models in face adaptation paradigms. Here, we implemented and tested variations of norm and exemplar models. Contrary to common claims, our simulations revealed that both an exemplar-based model and a version of a two-pool norm-based model, but not a traditional norm-based model, predict face identity aftereffects following face adaptation.

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