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PLOS ONE  2012 

The Significance of Hair for Face Recognition

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0034144

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Abstract:

Hair is a feature of the head that frequently changes in different situations. For this reason much research in the area of face perception has employed stimuli without hair. To investigate the effect of the presence of hair we used faces with and without hair in a recognition task. Participants took part in trials in which the state of the hair either remained consistent (Same) or switched between learning and test (Switch). It was found that in the Same trials performance did not differ for stimuli presented with and without hair. This implies that there is sufficient information in the internal features of the face for optimal performance in this task. It was also found that performance in the Switch trials was substantially lower than in the Same trials. This drop in accuracy when the stimuli were switched suggests that faces are represented in a holistic manner and that manipulation of the hair causes disruption to this, with implications for the interpretation of some previous studies.

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