A1 Journal article – refereed
Facial expression recognition in peripheral versus central vision: role of the eyes and the mouth.

List of Authors: Calvo MG, Fernández-Martín A, Nummenmaa L
Publisher: Springer International Publishing AG
Place: Springer Berlin Heidelberg
Publication year: 2014
Journal: Psychological Research
Journal acronym: Psychol Res.
Volume number: 78
Issue number: 2
eISSN: 1430-2772


This study investigated facial expression recognition in peripheral relative to central vision, and the factors accounting for the recognition advantage of some expressions in the visual periphery. Whole faces or only the eyes or the mouth regions were presented for 150 ms, either at fixation or extrafoveally (2.5° or 6°), followed by a backward mask and a probe word. Results indicated that (a) all the basic expressions were recognized above chance level, although performance in peripheral vision was less impaired for happy than for non-happy expressions, (b) the happy face advantage remained when only the mouth region was presented, and (c) the smiling mouth was the most visually salient and most distinctive facial feature of all expressions. This suggests that the saliency and the diagnostic value of the smile account for the advantage in happy face recognition in peripheral vision. Because of saliency, the smiling mouth accrues sensory gain and becomes resistant to visual degradation due to stimulus eccentricity, thus remaining accessible extrafoveally. Because of diagnostic value, the smile provides a distinctive single cue of facial happiness, thus bypassing integration of face parts and reducing susceptibility to breakdown of configural processing in peripheral vision.

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Last updated on 2019-29-01 at 18:36