Turning the other cheek: the viewpoint dependence of facial expression after-effects

CP Benton, PJ Etchells, G Porter, AP Clark, IS Penton-Voak, SG Nikolov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


How do we visually encode facial expressions? Is this done by viewpoint-dependent mechanisms representing facial expressions as two-dimensional templates or do we build more complex viewpoint independent three-dimensional representations? Recent facial adaptation techniques offer a powerful way to address these questions. Prolonged viewing of a stimulus (adaptation) changes the perception of subsequently viewed stimuli (an after-effect). Adaptation to a particular attribute is believed to target those neural mechanisms encoding that attribute. We gathered images of facial expressions taken simultaneously from five different viewpoints evenly spread from the three-quarter leftward to the three-quarter rightward facing view. We measured the strength of expression after-effects as a function of the difference between adaptation and test viewpoints. Our data show that, although there is a decrease in after-effect over test viewpoint, there remains a substantial after-effect when adapt and test are at differing three-quarter views. We take these results to indicate that neural systems encoding facial expressions contain a mixture of viewpoint-dependent and viewpoint-independent elements. This accords with evidence from single cell recording studies in macaque and is consonant with a view in which viewpoint-independent expression encoding arises from a combination of view-dependent expression-sensitive responses.
Translated title of the contributionTurning the other cheek: the viewpoint dependence of facial expression after-effects
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2131 - 2137
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume274 (1622)
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2007

Bibliographical note

Publisher: The Royal Society


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