Brown, V., Huey, D. and Findlay, J.M.
Face detection in peripheral vision: do faces pop out?
Perception, 26, (12), . (doi:10.1068/p261555).
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We examined whether faces can produce a 'pop-out' effect in visual search tasks. In the first experiment, subjects' eye movements and search latencies were measured while they viewed a display containing a target face amidst distractors. Targets were upright or inverted faces presented with seven others of the opposite polarity as an 'around-the-clock' display. Face images were either photographic or 'feature only', with the outline removed. Naive subjects were poor at locating an upright face from an array of inverted faces, but performance improved with practice. In the second experiment, we investigated systematically how training improved performance. Prior to testing, subjects were practised on locating either upright or inverted faces. Allsubjects benefited from training. Subjects practised on upright faces were faster and more accurate at locating upright target faces than inverted. Subjects practised on inverted faces showed no difference between upright and inverted targets. In the third experiment, faces with 'jumbled' features were used as distractors, and this resulted in the same pattern of findings. We conclude that there is no direct rapid 'pop-out' effect for faces. However, the findings demonstrate that, in peripheral vision, upright faces show a processing advantage over inverted faces.
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