The importance of internal facial features in learning new faces.
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For familiar faces, the internal features (eyes, nose, and mouth) are known to be differentially salient for recognition compared to external features such as hairstyle. Two experiments are reported that investigate how this internal feature advantage accrues as a face becomes familiar. In Experiment 1, we tested the contribution of internal and external features to the ability to generalize from a single studied photograph to different views of the same face. A recognition advantage for the internal features over the external features was found after a change of viewpoint, whereas there was no internal feature advantage when the same image was used at study and test. In Experiment 2, we removed the most salient external feature (hairstyle) from studied photographs and looked at how this affected generalization to a novel viewpoint. Removing the hair from images of the face assisted generalization to novel viewpoints, and this was especially the case when photographs showing more than one viewpoint were studied. The results suggest that the internal features play an important role in the generalization between different images of an individual's face by enabling the viewer to detect the common identity-diagnostic elements across non-identical instances of the face.
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