The dynamics of visual adaptation to faces

D.A. Leopold, Gillian Rhodes, K-M. Muller, Linda Jeffery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

213 Citations (Scopus)


Several recent demonstrations using visual adaptation have revealed high-level aftereffects for complex patterns including faces. While traditional aftereffects involve perceptual distortion of simple attributes such as orientation or colour that are processed early in the visual cortical hierarchy, face adaptation affects perceived identity and expression, which are thought to be products of higher-order processing. And, unlike most simple aftereffects, those involving faces are robust to changes in scale, position and orientation between the adapting and test stimuli. These differences raise the question of how closely related face aftereffects are to traditional ones. Little is known about the build-up and decay of the face aftereffect, and the similarity of these dynamic processes to traditional aftereffects might provide insight into this relationship. We examined the effect of varying the duration of both the adapting and test stimuli on the magnitude of perceived distortions in face identity. We found that, just as with traditional aftereffects, the identity aftereffect grew logarithmically stronger as a function of adaptation time and exponentially weaker as a function of test duration. Even the subtle aspects of these dynamics, such as the power-law relationship between the adapting and test durations, closely resembled that of other aftereffects. These results were obtained with two different sets of face stimuli that differed greatly in their low-level properties. We postulate that the mechanisms governing these shared dynamics may be dissociable from the responses of feature-selective neurons in the early visual cortex.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)897-904
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society: B
Issue number1566
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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