The Thatcher illusion in humans and monkeys

Christoph D. Dahl, Nikos K. Logothetis, Heinrich H. Bülthoff, Christian Wallraven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

32 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Primates possess the remarkable ability to differentiate faces of group members and to extract relevant information about the individual directly from the face. Recognition of conspecific faces is achieved by means of holistic processing, i.e. The processing of the face as an unparsed, perceptual whole, rather than as the collection of independent features (part-based processing). The most striking example of holistic processing is the Thatcher illusion. Local changes in facial features are hardly noticeable when the whole face is inverted (rotated 1808), but strikingly grotesque when the face is upright. This effect can be explained by a lack of processing capabilities for locally rotated facial features when the face is turned upside down. Recently, a Thatcher illusion was described in the macaque monkey analogous to that known from human investigations. Using a habituation paradigm combined with eye tracking, we address the critical follow-up questions raised in the aforementioned study to show the Thatcher illusion as a function of the observer's species (humans and macaques), the stimulus' species (humans and macaques) and the level of perceptual expertise (novice, expert).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2973-2981
Number of pages9
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume277
Issue number1696
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 7 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Face recognition
  • Holistic perception
  • Monkey
  • Thatcher illusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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