How distinct is the coding of face identity and expression? Evidence for some common dimensions in face space

Gillian Rhodes, Stephen Pond, Nichola Burton, Nadine Kloth, Linda Jeffery, Jason Bell, Louise Ewing, Andrew Calder, Romina Palermo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Traditional models of face perception emphasize distinct routes for processing face identity and expression. These models have been highly influential in guiding neural and behavioural research on the mechanisms of face perception. However, it is becoming clear that specialised brain areas for coding identity and expression may respond to both attributes and that identity and expression perception can interact. Here we use perceptual aftereffects to demonstrate the existence of dimensions in perceptual face space that code both identity and expression, further challenging the traditional view. Specifically, we find a significant positive association between face identity aftereffects and expression aftereffects, which dissociates from other face (gaze) and non-face (tilt) aftereffects. Importantly, individual variation in the adaptive calibration of these common dimensions significantly predicts ability to recognize both identity and expression. These results highlight the role of common dimensions in our ability to recognize identity and expression, and show why the high-level visual processing of these attributes is not entirely distinct.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123 - 137
Number of pages15
Early online date1 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015


  • Face perception
  • Face aftereffects
  • Adaptive coding
  • Face recognition

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