Face adaption improves trustworthiness discrimination

Bruce David Keefe, Ben Margerison, Milena Dzhelyova, David I. Perrett, Nick Barraclough

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review


Adaptation to a variety of facial characteristics such as identity, gender, and age, has been shown to bias our percept of faces in the opposing direction to the adapted level. These results suggest heterogeneous populations of neurons that encode different facial attributes at a relatively high-level of visual processing. Recently, face adaptation has been shown to improve sensitivity to the gender, race, and viewpoint of faces. In this study, we examined whether adapting to varying levels of face trustworthiness, improved sensitivity around the adapted level. In the first experiment just noticeable differences (JNDs) where calculated around an untrustworthy face after participants adapted to an untrustworthy face, a trustworthy face, or did not adapt. In the second experiment, the three conditions were identical except that JNDs were calculated around a relatively trustworthy face. In both experiments, participants completed a 2-alternate forced choice adaptive staircase procedure and JNDs were derived from the 76% point of a cumulative Gaussian fitted to the data. Compared to no adaptation, adapting to an untrustworthy or trustworthy face, improved discrimination around untrustworthy and trustworthy faces respectively. When adapting to an untrustworthy face but discriminating around a trustworthy face (and vice-versa), there was no improved sensitivity and JNDs were equivalent to those in the no adaptation condition. These findings suggest that distinct neuronal populations encode the level of facial trustworthiness, and that adaption can alter the tuning of these neuronal populations to improve our sensitivity to the trustworthiness of faces.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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