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Depth Structure from Asymmetric Shading Supports Face Discrimination

Chen, C-C., Chen, C-M. & Tyler, C. W. (2013). Depth Structure from Asymmetric Shading Supports Face Discrimination. PLoS One, 8(2), article number e55865. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055865


To examine the effect of illumination direction on the ability of observers to discriminate between faces, we manipulated the direction of illumination on scanned 3D face models. In order to dissociate the surface reflectance and illumination components of front-view face images, we introduce a symmetry algorithm that can separate the symmetric and asymmetric components of the face in both low and high spatial frequency bands. Based on this approach, hybrid faces stimuli were constructed with different combinations of symmetric and asymmetric spatial content. Discrimination results with these images showed that asymmetric illumination information biased face perception toward the structure of the shading component, while the symmetric illumination information had little, if any, effect. Measures of perceived depth showed that this property increased systematically with the asymmetric but not the symmetric low spatial frequency component. Together, these results suggest that (1) the asymmetric 3D shading information dramatically affects both the perceived facial information and the perceived depth of the facial structure; and (2) these effects both increase as the illumination direction is shifted to the side. Thus, our results support the hypothesis that face processing has a strong 3D component.

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
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