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Department of Cognitive Science

Seminar Abstract

Poor, average and excellent: What individual variability can tell us about the mechanisms of face perception.

Speaker : Associate Professor Romina Palermo, School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Western Australia.
Date : 6th of September 2017, 11:00AM until 12:00PM
Location : Australian Hearing Hub, 3.610, Macquarie University.

    Accurate and rapid recognition of identity and emotion facilitates social interactions. Faces display important cues to help us determine the identity and emotion of others. However, people vary considerably in their ability to decipher these cues from faces. What underlies these individual differences in ability? In this talk I will focus on our work investigating the contribution of two face-sensitive perceptual mechanisms: holistic coding, in which information is integrated across a face and adaptive norm-based coding, in which faces are coded relative to a norm in a multidimensional face-space and that norm is updated by experience. I will examine whether individual differences in face identity and expression recognition ability are associated with the strength of holistic and adaptive norm-based coding. I will also examine whether holistic and adaptive norm-based coding is disrupted in people with compromised abilities, in particular people with congenital or developmental prosopagnosia who find it very difficult to recognise facial identity. This work has important implications for understanding how face identity and expression are recognized, how these skills develop and can be disrupted, and the links between facial identity and expression recognition. It also provides clues as to how we might begin to help people improve their facility with these crucial social abilities.

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