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Face recognition via reflectance and shape cues across the full spectrum of ability

Dr. Richard Russell

Monday, April 05, 2010, 12:00pm - 07:00pm

Gettysburg College, Department of Psychology

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Faces are considered a 'special' category of objects for the purposes of recognition.  Here I report evidence that the human visual system relies more heavily on the use of surface reflectance properties when recognizing faces than when recognizing most other object classes.  Specifically,  face recognition depends on the use of shape and surface reflectance properties about equally, while recognition of most other object classes is widely agreed to rely predominantly on shape.  I will then describe work with two recently discovered special populations that represent the extreme low and high ends of the spectrum of face recognition ability-developmental prosopagnosics and super-recognizers.  After describing some general findings with these groups, I will show that subjects from both extremes of the spectrum of face recognition ability use shape and reflectance cues about equally in recognizing faces, placing further constraints on the kinds of representations likely to underlie face recognition.

Background Readings:

Russell Duchaine & Nakayama 2009


Dr. Richard Russell