2006 volume 35(5) pages 659 – 670
doi:10.1068/p5360

Cite as:
Caldara R, Abdi H, 2006, "Simulating the ‘other-race’ effect with autoassociative neural networks: further evidence in favor of the face-space model" Perception 35(5) 659 – 670

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Simulating the ‘other-race’ effect with autoassociative neural networks: further evidence in favor of the face-space model

Roberto Caldara, Hervé Abdi

Received 20 September 2004, in revised form 1 July 2005; published online 19 April 2006

Abstract. Other-race (OR) faces are less accurately recognized than same-race (SR) faces, but faster classified by race. This phenomenon has often been reported as the ‘other-race’ effect (ORE). Valentine (1991 Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology A: Human Experimental Psychology 43 161 – 204) proposed a theoretical multidimensional face-space model that explained both of these results, in terms of variations in exemplar density between races. According to this model, SR faces are more widely distributed across the dimensions of the space than OR faces. However, this model does not quantify nor state the dimensions coded within this face space. The aim of the present study was to test the face-space explanation of the ORE with neural network simulations by quantifying its dimensions. We found the predicted density properties of Valentine’s framework in the face-projection spaces of the autoassociative memories. This was supported by an interaction for exemplar density between the race of the learned face set and the race of the faces. In addition, the elaborated face representations showed optimal responses for SR but not for OR faces within SR face spaces when explored at the individual level, as gender errors occurred significantly more often in OR than in SR face-space representations. Altogether, our results add further evidence in favor of a statistical exemplar density explanation of the ORE as suggested by Valentine, and question the plausibility of such coding for faces in the framework of recent neuroimaging studies.

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