2009 volume 38(10) pages 1508 – 1521

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Bombari D, Mast F W, Lobmaier J S, 2009, "Featural, configural, and holistic face-processing strategies evoke different scan patterns" Perception 38(10) 1508 – 1521

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Featural, configural, and holistic face-processing strategies evoke different scan patterns

Dario Bombari, Fred W Mast, Janek S Lobmaier

Received 27 June 2008, in revised form 30 June 2009

Abstract. In two experiments we investigated the role of eye movements during face processing. In experiment 1, using modified faces with primarily featural (scrambled faces) or configural (blurred faces) information as cue stimuli, we manipulated the way participants processed subsequently presented intact faces. In a sequential same – different task, participants decided whether the identity of an intact test face matched a preceding scrambled or blurred cue face. Analysis of eye movements for test faces showed more interfeatural saccades when they followed a blurred face, and longer gaze duration within the same feature when they followed scrambled faces. In experiment 2, we used a similar paradigm except that test faces were cued by intact faces, low-level blurred stimuli, or second-order scrambled stimuli (features were cut out but maintained their first-order relations). We found that in the intact condition participants performed fewer interfeatural saccades than in low-level blurred condition and had shorter gaze duration than in second-order scrambled condition. Moreover, participants fixated the centre of the test face to grasp the information from the whole face. Our findings suggest a differentiation between featural, configural, and holistic processing strategies, which can be associated with specific patterns of eye movements.

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