ECVP 2008 Abstract

Cite as:
Tillman K A, Araki M, Pelli D G, 2008, "Crowding shows that faces have parts and bodies do not" Perception 37 ECVP Abstract Supplement, page 33

Crowding shows that faces have parts and bodies do not

K A Tillman, M Araki, D G Pelli

Crowding provides an operational test for whether an object is recognized by parts or as a whole. If an object has parts for recognition, those parts must be isolated, separated by at least the observer's critical spacing, in order for the object to be identified. Martelli et al [2005, Journal of Vision 5(1.6) 58 - 70] showed that faces are like words: both are recognized by parts. Here we use an emotion-recognition task to ask whether bodies are like faces. We use a staircase procedure to measure the threshold size for identifying the emotion (happiness, sadness, fear, anger, or disgust) conveyed by a body posture silhouette or face photograph. We compute 'complexity' as the ratio of this threshold object size and the size of the smallest 'isolation field' (based on critical spacing) in that region of the visual field. Complexity≤1 indicates holistic recognition, while complexity>1 indicates recognition by parts. We replicate Martelli et al's finding that faces are recognized by parts (complexity = 3.6±1.0). Surprisingly, we find that bodies, unlike faces and words, are recognized as wholes (complexity = 1.0±0.3).
[Supported by National Eye Institute grant R01-EY04432 to DGP.]

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