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PLoS One. 2018 Jul 6;13(7):e0200106. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0200106. eCollection 2018.

Mooney face stimuli for visual perception research.

Author information

Neural Circuits and Cognition Lab, European Neuroscience Institute, Göttingen, Germany.
University Medical Center Goettingen, Göttingen, Germany.
Department of Neurosurgery, Columbia University, New York, New York, United States of America.
Neuroscience Department, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
INSERM, Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, Gif sur Yvette, France.
Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, Direction des Sciences du Vivant, I2BM, NeuroSpin center, Gif sur Yvette, France.


In 1957, Craig Mooney published a set of human face stimuli to study perceptual closure: the formation of a coherent percept on the basis of minimal visual information. Images of this type, now known as "Mooney faces", are widely used in cognitive psychology and neuroscience because they offer a means of inducing variable perception with constant visuo-spatial characteristics (they are often not perceived as faces if viewed upside down). Mooney's original set of 40 stimuli has been employed in several studies. However, it is often necessary to use a much larger stimulus set. We created a new set of over 500 Mooney faces and tested them on a cohort of human observers. We present the results of our tests here, and make the stimuli freely available via the internet. Our test results can be used to select subsets of the stimuli that are most suited for a given experimental purpose.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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