Identifying and detecting facial expressions of emotion in peripheral vision

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Facial expressions of emotion are signals of high biological value. Whilst recognition of facial expressions has been much studied in central vision, the ability to perceive these signals in peripheral vision has only seen limited research to date, despite the potential adaptive advantages of such perception. In the present experiment, we investigate facial expression recognition and detection performance for each of the basic emotions (plus neutral) at up to 30 degrees of eccentricity. We demonstrate, as expected, a decrease in recognition and detection performance with increasing eccentricity, with happiness and surprised being the best recognized expressions in peripheral vision. In detection however, while happiness and surprised are still well detected, fear is also a well detected expression. We show that fear is a better detected than recognized expression. Our results demonstrate that task constraints shape the perception of expression in peripheral vision and provide novel evidence that detection and recognition rely on partially separate underlying mechanisms, with the latter more dependent on the higher spatial frequency content of the face stimulus.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0197160
JournalPLoS One
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2018

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