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Critical information thresholds underlying generic and familiar face categorisation at the same face encounter

Abstract : Seeing a face in the real world provokes a host of automatic categorisations related to sex, emotion, identity, and more. Such individual facets of human face recognition have been extensively examined using overt categorisation judgements, yet their relative informational dependencies during the same face encounter are comparatively unknown. Here we used EEG to assess how increasing access to sensory input governs two ecologically relevant brain functions elicited by seeing a face: Distinguishing faces and nonfaces, and recognising people we know. Observers viewed a large set of natural images that progressively increased in either image duration (experiment 1) or spatial frequency content (experiment 2). We show that in the absence of an explicit categorisation task, the human brain requires less sensory input to categorise a stimulus as a face than it does to recognise whether that face is familiar. Moreover, where sensory thresholds for distinguishing faces/nonfaces were remarkably consistent across observers, there was high inter-individual variability in the lower informational bound for familiar face recognition, underscoring the neurofunctional distinction between these categorisation functions. By i) indexing a form of face recognition that goes beyond simple low-level differences between categories, and ii) tapping multiple recognition functions elicited by the same face encounters, the information minima we report bear high relevance to real-world face encounters, where the same stimulus is categorised along multiple dimensions at once. Thus, our finding of lower informational requirements for generic vs. familiar face recognition constitutes some of the strongest evidence to date for the intuitive notion that sensory input demands should be lower for recognising face category than face identity.
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Contributor : Bruno Rossion Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Saturday, November 20, 2021 - 2:24:09 PM
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Genevieve Quek, Bruno Rossion, Joan Liu-Shuang. Critical information thresholds underlying generic and familiar face categorisation at the same face encounter. NeuroImage, Elsevier, 2021, 243, pp.118481. ⟨10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.118481⟩. ⟨hal-03437754⟩



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