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Dr. Frederic Gosselin
Universite de Montreal

What can 5,000,000 bubbles tell us about face recognition?


Over the past 5 years, my collaborators and I have studied face recognition using the Bubbles technique (Gosselin & Schyns, 2001; Chauvin, Worsley, Schyns, Arguin & Gosselin, 2005). I will use this opportunity to take a bird-eye view of this endeavor. Here is a highlight of what we have discovered: Accuracy and response time are correlated with the presence of relatively coarse facial information (mean = 4.5 cpf) between 20 and 110 ms and with the presence of relatively fine facial information (mean =  8 cpf) between 40 and 110 ms (Bacon, Gosselin, Vinette & Faubert, 2003; McCabe, Chauvin, Fiset, Arguin & Gosselin, 2005). But there are important task differences: e.g., discriminating fearful faces from faces expressing other emotions requires information at a much finer scale (45-22.5 cpf) (Adolphs, Gosselin, Buchanon, Tranel, Schyns & Damasio, 2005; Smith, Cottrell, Gosselin & Schyns, 2005). Accuracy is also correlated with the presence of the right eye between 47 and 94 ms; then with the presence of the both eyes, alternating with a frequency of about 10 Hz (Vinette, Gosselin & Schyns, 2004; McCabe, Gosselin & Arguin, 2005). Prosopagnosics (Caldara, Rossion, Mayer, Smith, Gosselin & Schyns, in press) and patients with damage to their amygdalas (Adolphs, Gosselin, Buchanon, Tranel, Schyns & Damasio, 2005) do not show this correlation between eyes and accuracy. Finally, EEG activity at P9 and P10 is mainly correlated with the contra-lateral eyes of faces
between 150 and 250 ms, irrespective of the task (Schyns, Jentzsch, Johnson Sweinberger & Gosselin, 2003); accuracy, response time, and EEG activity at Pz are correlated with the same visual information (e.g., for happy/neutral face discrimination: the mouth) between 300 and 400 ms (Smith, Gosselin & Schyns, 2004).