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Holistic and featural processing’s link to face recognition varies by individual and task.

Leong Qi Zheng, B., Estudillo, A. J. and Hussain Ismail, A. M., 2023. Holistic and featural processing’s link to face recognition varies by individual and task. Scientific Reports, 13 (1), 1-10.

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Leong_et_al-2023-Scientific_Reports.pdf - Published Version
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DOI: 10.1038/s41598-023-44164-w


While it is generally accepted that holistic processing facilitates face recognition, recent studies suggest that poor recognition might also arise from imprecise perception of local features in the face. This study aimed to examine to what extent holistic and featural processing relates to individual differences in face recognition ability (FRA), during face learning (Experiment 1) and face recognition (Experiment 2). Participants performed two tasks: (1) The “Cambridge Face Memory Test-Chinese” which measured participants’ FRAs, and (2) an “old/new recognition memory test” encompassing whole faces (preserving holistic and featural processing) and faces revealed through a dynamic aperture (impairing holistic processing but preserving featural processing). Our results showed that participants recognised faces more accurately in conditions when holistic information was preserved, than when it is impaired. We also show that the better use of holistic processing during face learning and face recognition was associated with better FRAs. However, enhanced featural processing during recognition, but not during learning, was related to better FRAs. Together, our findings demonstrate that good face recognition depends on distinct roles played by holistic and featural processing at different stages of face recognition.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Supplementary information:
Uncontrolled Keywords:Human behaviour; Long-term memory
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:39056
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:16 Oct 2023 11:27
Last Modified:16 Oct 2023 11:27


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