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Serial dependence of facial identity is a type of bias where the perceived identity of a face is biased towards a previously presented face. There are individual differences in serial dependence strength and tuning (how the strength varies depending on stimuli similarity), and previous research has shown that both stronger and more narrowly tuned serial dependence of facial identity is associated with better face recognition abilities. These results are consistent with the idea that this bias plays a functional role in face perception. It is important, therefore, to determine whether serial dependence of facial identity reflects a high-level face-coding mechanism acting on the identity of a face or instead predominantly reflects a bias in low-level features, which are also subject to serial dependence. We first sought evidence that serial dependence of facial identity survived changes in low-level visual features, by varying face viewpoint between successive stimuli. We found that serial dependence persisted across changes in viewpoint, arguing against an entirely low-level locus for this bias. We next tested whether the bias was affected by inversion, as sensitivity to inversion is argued to be a characteristic of high-level face-selective processing. Serial dependence was stronger and more narrowly tuned for upright than inverted faces. Taken together, our results are consistent with the view that serial dependence of facial identity affects high-level visual representations and may reflect a face-coding mechanism that is operating at the level of facial identity.
1/01/11 → 31/12/18