Enhanced attention amplifies face adaptation

Gillian Rhodes, Linda Jeffery, Emma Evangelista, Louise Ewing, Marianne Peters, Libby Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Perceptual adaptation not only produces striking perceptual aftereffects, but also enhances coding efficiency and discrimination by calibrating coding mechanisms to prevailing inputs. Attention to simple stimuli increases adaptation, potentially enhancing its functional benefits. Here we show that attention also increases adaptation to faces. In Experiment 1, face identity aftereffects increased when attention to adapting faces was increased using a change detection task. In Experiment 2, figural (distortion) face aftereffects increased when attention was increased using a snap game (detecting immediate repeats) during adaptation. Both were large effects. Contributions of low-level adaptation were reduced using free viewing (both experiments) and a size change between adapt and test faces (Experiment 2). We suggest that attention may enhance adaptation throughout the entire cortical visual pathway, with functional benefits well beyond the immediate advantages of selective processing of potentially important stimuli. These results highlight the potential to facilitate adaptive updating of face-coding mechanisms by strategic deployment of attentional resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1811-1819
Number of pages9
JournalVision Research
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2011


  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Face
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Figural Aftereffect
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Perceptual Distortion
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Visual Perception
  • Young Adult

Cite this