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Inverting faces does not abolish cultural diversity in eye movements

By H. Rodger, D.J. Kelly, C. Blais and R. Caldara

Abstract

Face processing is widely understood to be a basic, universal visual function effortlessly achieved by people from all cultures and races. The remarkable recognition performance for faces is markedly and specifically affected by picture-plane inversion: the so-called face-inversion effect (FIE), a finding often used as evidence for face-specific mechanisms. However, it has recently been shown that culture shapes the way people deploy eye movements to extract information from faces. Interestingly, the comparable lack of experience with inverted faces across cultures offers a unique opportunity to establish the extent to which such cultural perceptual biases in eye movements are robust, but also to assess whether face-specific mechanisms are universally tuned. Here we monitored the eye movements of Western Caucasian (WC) and East Asian (EA) observers while they learned and recognised WC and EA inverted faces. Both groups of observers showed a comparable impairment in recognising inverted faces of both races. WC observers deployed a scattered inverted triangular scanpath with a bias towards the mouth, whereas EA observers uniformly extended the focus of their fixations from the centre towards the eyes. Overall, our data show that cultural perceptual differences in eye movements persist during the FIE, questioning the universality of face-processing mechanism

Publisher: 'Pion Ltd'
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1068/p6750
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.gla.ac.uk:49856
Provided by: Enlighten
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