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The effect of facial expression on contrast sensitivity: A behavioural investigation and extension of Hedger, Adams & Garner (2015)

Webb, Abigail LM and Hibbard, Paul B (2019) 'The effect of facial expression on contrast sensitivity: A behavioural investigation and extension of Hedger, Adams & Garner (2015).' PLoS One, 14 (11). ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

It has been argued that rapid visual processing for fearful face expressions is driven by the fact that effective contrast is higher in these faces compared to other expressions, when the contrast sensitivity function is taken into account. This proposal has been upheld by data from image analyses, but is yet to be tested at the behavioural level. The present study conducts a traditional contrast sensitivity task for face images of various facial expressions. Findings show that visual contrast thresholds do not differ for different facial expressions We re-conduct analysis of faces’ effective contrast, using the procedure developed by Hedger, Adams and Garner, and show that higher effective contrast in fearful face expressions relies on face images first being normalised for RMS contrast. When not normalised for RMS contrast, effective contrast in fear expressions is no different, or sometimes even lower, compared to other expressions. However, the effect of facial expression on detection in a backward masking study did not depend on the type of contrast normalisation used. These findings are discussed in relation to the implications of contrast normalisation on the salience of face expressions in behavioural and neurophysiological experiments, and also the extent that natural physical differences between facial stimuli are masked during stimulus standardisation and normalisation.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 04 Dec 2019 09:59
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2019 10:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/26140

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