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J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1996 Aug;22(4):904-15.

Inversion and processing of component and spatial-relational information in faces.

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Program in Psychology, University of Texas at Dallas, USA.


This study compared effects of inversion on perceptual processing of faces with distorted components (eyes and mouths) and faces distorted by altering spatial relations between components. In a rating task, participants inversion reduced the rated grotesqueness of spatially distorted faces but not that of faces with altered components. In a comparison task, pairs of faces were shown side by side; participants judged whether they were identical or different. Inversion greatly reduced the rate at which participants responded within 3 s to pairs that differed spatially, but not pairs that differed componentially. Also, latencies for detecting spatial differences were lengthened by inversion more than latencies for detecting componential differences. Results support the hypothesis that inversion impairs encoding of spatial-relational information more than, or instead of, componential information, depending on the task.

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