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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1984 Feb;10(1):90-107.

Effects of perceptual quality on the processing of human faces presented to the left and right cerebral hemispheres.


Three experiments examined the effects of stimulus duration, retinal eccentricity, and visual noise on the processing of human faces presented to the left visual field/right hemisphere (LVF-RH) and right visual field/left hemisphere (RVF-LH). In Experiment 1 observers identified which of 10 similar male faces was presented on a screen. The single face was presented for 10, 55, or 100 ms at 1 degree, 4 degrees, or 9 degrees of visual angle to the left or right of fixation. Decreasing stimulus duration and increasing retinal eccentricity lowered face recognition. The effect of duration was the same for LVF-RH and RVF-LH trials, but the detrimental effect of increasing retinal eccentricity was larger on LVF-RH trials than on RVF-LH trials. In Experiment 2 observers indicated whether a single face from this same set was a member of a memorized set of five positive faces. The probe face on each trial was presented alone or embedded in visual noise. Visual noise increased the error rate more on LVF-RH trials than on RVF-LH trials. This effect was replicated in Experiment 3, which also required observers to make a much easier discrimination between male and female faces. In the male/female task visual noise tended to impair performance more on RVF-LH trials than on LVF-RH trials, opposite the effect for the male/male task. These results are discussed in terms of hemispheric asymmetry for global versus local features of faces, the level of feature analysis demanded by a task, and the level of feature analysis most disrupted by perceptual degradation.

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