Paper in Perception
  • Taubert, J., Alais, D. (2011). Identity aftereffects, but not composite effects, are contingent on contrast polarity. Perception, 40 (4) pp. 422-436.

    People are very good at discriminating faces despite their gross similarity. Our ability to capitalize on the variance that exists between faces has been attributed to an adaptive face- coding system. Evidence from psychophysical adaptation paradigms has generally supported this view, although results from other paradigms have suggested alternative accounts. The composite face-effect (CFE), for example, has been used to argue that holistic processing supports face discrimination. The question addressed here is whether the notion of holistic processing can be integrated with the notion of an adaptive face-coding system. Experiment 1 clearly demonstrates that the CFE acts on contrast-reversed faces while experiment 2 reveals that face-space adaptation depends on contrast polarity, consistent with previous observations of contrast-reversal impairing discrimination performance. Our results suggest that two popular theoretical frame-works in the face-recognition literature can be integrated, with holistic processing occurring at an earlier stage than face discrimination.