A spatial frequency account of the detriment that local processing of Navon letters has on face recognition

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Hills, Peter J. ; Lewis, Michael B. (2009)

Five minutes of processing the local features of a Navon letter causes a detriment in subsequent face recognition performance (Macrae & H. Lewis, 2002). We hypothesise a perceptual after-effect explanation of this effect in which face recognition is less accurate after adapting to high spatial frequencies at high contrasts. Five experiments were conducted in which face recognition performance was compared after processing high contrast Navon stimuli. The standard recognition deficit was observed for processing the local features of Navon stimuli, but not if the stimuli were blurred (Experiment 1) or if they were of lower contrast (Experiment 2). A face recognition deficit was observed after processing small high contrast letters equivalent to local processing of Navon letters (Experiment 3). Experiments 4 and 5 demonstrated that recognition of bandpass filtered faces interacted with the type of Navon processing, whereby the recognition of low-pass filtered faces was better following local rather than global processing. These results suggest that the Navon effect on subsequent face recognition is a perceptual phenomenon.
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