• The Caledonian face test: A new test of face discrimination

      Logan, Andrew J.; Wilkinson, F.; Wilson, H.R.; Gordon, G.E.; Loffler, G. (2016-02)
      This study aimed to develop a clinical test of face perception which is applicable to a wide range of patients and can capture normal variability. The Caledonian face test utilises synthetic faces which combine simplicity with sufficient realism to permit individual identification. Face discrimination thresholds (i.e. minimum difference between faces required for accurate discrimination) were determined in an "odd-one-out" task. The difference between faces was controlled by an adaptive QUEST procedure. A broad range of face discrimination sensitivity was determined from a group (N=52) of young adults (mean 5.75%; SD 1.18; range 3.33-8.84%). The test is fast (3-4min), repeatable (test-re-test r2=0.795) and demonstrates a significant inversion effect. The potential to identify impairments of face discrimination was evaluated by testing LM who reported a lifelong difficulty with face perception. While LM's impairment for two established face tests was close to the criterion for significance (Z-scores of -2.20 and -2.27) for the Caledonian face test, her Z-score was -7.26, implying a more than threefold higher sensitivity. The new face test provides a quantifiable and repeatable assessment of face discrimination ability. The enhanced sensitivity suggests that the Caledonian face test may be capable of detecting more subtle impairments of face perception than available tests.
    • Contributions of Individual Face Features to Face Discrimination

      Logan, Andrew J.; Gordon, G.E.; Loffler, G. (2017)
      Faces are highly complex stimuli that contain a host of information. Such complexity poses the following questions: (a) do observers exhibit preferences for specific information? (b) how does sensitivity to individual face parts compare? These questions were addressed by quantifying sensitivity to different face features. Discrimination thresholds were determined for synthetic faces under the following conditions: (i) ‘full face’: all face features visible; (ii) ‘isolated feature’: single feature presented in isolation; (iii) ‘embedded feature’: all features visible, but only one feature modified. Mean threshold elevations for isolated features, relative to full-faces, were 0.84x, 1.08, 2.12, 3.34, 4.07 and 4.47 for head-shape, hairline, nose, mouth, eyes and eyebrows respectively. Hence, when two full faces can be discriminated at threshold, the difference between the eyes is about four times less than what is required when discriminating between isolated eyes. In all cases, sensitivity was higher when features were presented in isolation than when they were embedded within a face context (threshold elevations of 0.94x, 1.74, 2.67, 2.90, 5.94 and 9.94). This reveals a specific pattern of sensitivity to face information. Observers are between two and four times more sensitive to external than internal features. The pattern for internal features (higher sensitivity for the nose, compared to mouth, eyes and eyebrows) is consistent with lower sensitivity for those parts affected by facial dynamics (e.g. facial expressions). That isolated features are easier to discriminate than embedded features supports a holistic face processing mechanism which impedes extraction of information about individual features from full faces.
    • Distinct lower visual field preference for object shape

      Schmidtmann, G.; Logan, Andrew J.; Kennedy, Graeme J.; Gordon, G.E.; Loffler, G. (2015-04)
      Humans manipulate objects chiefly within their lower visual field, a consequence of upright posture and the anatomical position of hands and arms.This study tested the hypothesis of enhanced sensitivity to a range of stimuli within the lower visual field. Following current models of hierarchical processing within the ventral steam, discrimination sensitivity was measured for orientation, curvature, shape (radial frequency patterns), and faces at various para-central locations (horizontal, vertical, and main diagonal meridians) and eccentricities (5° and 10°). Peripheral sensitivity was isotropic for orientation and curvature. By contrast, observers were significantly better at discriminating shapes throughout the lower visual field compared to elsewhere. For faces, however, peak sensitivity was found in the left visual field, corresponding to the right hemispheric localization of human face processing. Presenting head outlines without any internal features (e.g., eyes, mouth) recovered the lower visual field advantage found for simple shapes. A lower visual field preference for the shape of an object, which is absent for more localized information (orientation and curvature) but also for more complex objects (faces), is inconsistent with a strictly feed-forward model and poses a challenge for multistage models of object perception. The distinct lower visual field preference for contour shapes is, however, consistent with an asymmetry at intermediate stages of visual processing, which may play a key role in representing object characteristics that are particularly relevant to visually guided actions.