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Paper in Learning & Motivation

  • Spetch, M.L., Cheng, K. and Clifford, C.W.G. (2004) Peak shift but not range effects in recognition of faces. Learning & Motivation, 35, 221-241.


    University students were trained to discriminate between two gray-scale images of faces that varied along a continuum from a unique face to an average face created by morphing. Following training, participants were tested without feedback for their ability to recognize the positive face (S+) within a range of faces along the continuum. In Experiments 1 and 4, the range of stimuli presented during testing was manipulated. In Experiment 2, participants viewed different ranges of faces during an adaptation period that followed training and preceded testing. In all experiments, generalization functions revealed peak shifts or area shifts (fewer "yes" responses to novel faces on the negative side of the S+), but no systematic effects of the test or adaptation range. Peak shift was found both for upright and inverted faces and occurred even if the orientation of the face was reversed between training and test. Using similar methods, either an area shift or range effect (but not both together) was demonstrated for line tilt stimuli (Experiment 3), and the appearance of these effects depended on instructions. It appears that peak shift and area shift are robust across many different kinds of stimuli, but range effects may not readily occur with complex multidimensional stimuli.