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    Opposite size illusions for inverted faces and letters

    Walsh, E. and Moreira, C. and Longo, Matthew (2024) Opposite size illusions for inverted faces and letters. Cognition 245 (105733), ISSN 0010-0277.

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    Words are the primary means by which we communicate meaning and ideas, while faces provide important social cues. Studying visual illusions involving faces and words can elucidate the hierarchical processing of information as different regions of the brain are specialised for face recognition and word processing. A size illusion has previously been demonstrated for faces, whereby an inverted face is perceived as larger than the same stimulus upright. Here, two experiments replicate the face size illusion, and investigate whether the illusion is also present for individual letters (Experiment 1), and visual words and pseudowords (Experiment 2). Results confirm a robust size Illusion for faces. Letters, words and pseudowords and unfamiliar letters all show a reverse size illusion, as we previously demonstrated for human bodies. Overall, results indicate the illusion occurs in early perceptual stages upstream of semantic processing. Results are consistent with the idea of a general-purpose mechanism that encodes curvilinear shapes found in both scripts and our environment. Word and face perception rely on specialised, independent cognitive processes. The underestimation of the size of upright stimuli is specific to faces. Opposite size illusions may reflect differences in how size information is encoded and represented in stimulus-specialised neural networks, resulting in contrasting perceptual effects. Though words and faces differ visually, there is both symmetry and asymmetry in how the brain ‘reads’ them.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Matthew Longo
    Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2024 14:12
    Last Modified: 31 Jan 2024 18:48


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