Idiosyncratic, Retinotopic Bias in Face Identification Modulated by Familiarity
The perception of gender and age of unfamiliar faces is reported to vary idiosyncratically across retinal locations such that, for example, the same androgynous face may appear to be male at one location but female at another. Here, we test spatial heterogeneity for the recognition of the identity of personally familiar faces in human participants. We found idiosyncratic biases that were stable within participants and that varied more across locations for low as compared to high familiar faces.
... igh familiar faces. These data suggest that like face gender and age, face identity is processed, in part, by independent populations of neurons monitoring restricted spatial regions and that the recognition responses vary for the same face across these different locations. Moreover, repeated and varied social interactions appear to lead to adjustments of these independent face recognition neurons so that the same familiar face is eventually more likely to elicit the same recognition response across widely separated visual field locations. We provide a mechanistic account of this reduced retinotopic bias based on computational simulations. In this work, we tested spatial heterogeneity for the recognition of personally familiar faces. We found retinotopic biases that varied more across locations for low as compared to highly familiar faces. The retinotopic biases were idiosyncratic and stable within participants. Our data suggest that, like face gender and age, face identity is processed by independent populations of neurons monitoring restricted spatial regions and that recognition may vary for the same face at these different locations. Unlike previous findings, our data and computational simulation address the effects of learning and show how increased familiarity modifies the representation of face identity in face-responsive cortical areas. This new perspective has broader implications for understanding how learning optimizes visual processes for socially salient stimuli.