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Does attention to low spatial frequencies enhance face recognition? An individual differences approach

33.55, Sunday, 18-May, 8:30 am - 12:30 pm, Pavilion
Session: Attention: Individual differences

Blaire Dube1, Karen Arnell2, Catherine Mondloch2; 1University of Guelph, 2Brock University

Faces are widely regarded as “special” due to our reliance on holistic or configural processing for their successful recognition. The processing of low spatial frequency information has been associated with holistic processing and is thought to promote a face-specific recognition advantage. There are reliable individual differences in face recognition ability, and these are related to individual differences in various holistic processing measures. There are also stable individual differences in the tendency to use high or low spatial frequency information. To date, however, there have been no investigations of potential relationships between individual differences in high/low spatial frequency use and performance on face recognition tasks. The current study investigated whether individual differences in low spatial frequency use are related to individual differences in face recognition, as well as the extent to which these relationships are face-specific. Participants completed three different face recognition tasks, two non-face recognition control tasks, and a task pitting high and low spatial frequency information against each other. As predicted, individuals who showed greater reliance on low-spatial frequency information had better face recognition ability. However, increased use of low-spatial frequency information also predicted better recognition of non-face stimuli (i.e. cars and abstract art), and the relationship between face recognition and low spatial frequency use was not significant after statistically controlling for non-face recognition performance. The results suggest that the use of low-spatial frequencies in visual processing is beneficial to recognition in general, as opposed to garnering advantages that are specific to faces.

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