The fate of holistic face representations in long-term memory
16.546, Friday, May 10, 5:30 - 8:00 pm, Vista Ballroom
Bonnie Heptonstall1, James Tanaka1, Michael Hoven2; 1Department of Psychology, University of Victoria, 2Maastricht University
Although evidence for holistic face processing has been well established in perceptual and immediate memory paradigms, less is known about the time course of holistic representations over longer retention intervals. In the current study, we examined the fate of holistic face memories in long term memory. In the learning phase of the experiment, participants were trained to identify 12 novel faces (six male, six female) by name (e.g., "Joe") to a criterion of 100 percent accuracy. Next, memory for the eyes, nose and mouth parts of the faces was assessed using a part-whole recognition task. In this task, participants were asked to discriminate a given target face part (e.g., Joes nose) from its foil presented in isolation and in the whole face. Part-whole recognition was tested for upright and inverted faces either immediately (Time 1 group), seven days (Time 2 group), or 14 days (Time 3 group) after training. The main finding was that the Time 1, 2 and 3 groups demonstrated a significant whole face advantage for parts in upright faces. The pattern of holistic recognition differed for the eyes, nose and mouth parts. Whereas the nose and mouth parts showed a strong whole face advantage at all three time intervals, the eyes demonstrated a whole face advantage only at the Time 3 test. In contrast to upright faces, recognition of parts in inverted faces showed no whole face advantage at any of the three time intervals. In summary, these results provide strong evidence that recently familiarized faces are retained in long-term memory as holistic representations.