2003 volume 32(9) pages 1109 – 1116

Cite as:
Watson T L, Clifford C W G, 2003, "Pulling faces: An investigation of the face-distortion aftereffect" Perception 32(9) 1109 – 1116

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Pulling faces: An investigation of the face-distortion aftereffect

Tamara L Watson, Colin W G Clifford

Received 28 February 2002, in revised form 15 February 2003; published online 10 October 2003

Abstract. After adaptation to a face distorted to look unnaturally thin or fat, a normal face appears distorted in the opposite direction (Webster and MacLin 1999 Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 6 647 - 653). When the adapting face is oriented 45° from vertically upright and the test face 45° in the opposite direction, the axis of perceived distortion changes with the orientation of the face. The magnitude of this aftereffect shows a reduction of approximately 40% from that found when both adapting and test faces are tilted identically. This finding suggests that to a large degree the aftereffect is mediated not by low-level retinotopic (image-based) visual mechanisms but at a higher level of object-based processing. Aftereffects of a similar magnitude are obtained when adapting and test images are both either upright or inverted, or for an upright adapter and an inverted test; but aftereffects are smaller when the adapter is inverted and the test upright. This pattern of results suggests that the face-distortion aftereffect is mediated by object-processing mechanisms including, but not restricted to, configurational face-processing mechanisms.

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