Face aftereffects suggest interdependent processing of expression and sex and of expression and race

P. E. G. Bestelmeyer, B. C. Jones, Lisa DeBruine, A. C. Little, L. L. M. Welling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Bruce and Young (1986) proposed that functionally different aspects of faces (e. g., sex, identity, and expression) are processed independently. Although interdependent processing of identity and expression and of identity and sex have been demonstrated previously, evidence for interdependent processing of sex and expression is equivocal. Using a visual adaptation paradigm, we show that expression aftereffects can be simultaneously induced in different directions along anger-fear continua for male and female faces (Experiment 1) and for East Asian and Black African faces (Experiment 2). These findings for sex- and race-contingent expression aftereffects suggest that processing of expression is interdependent with processing of sex and race and are therefore problematic for models of face perception that have emphasized independent processing of functionally different aspects of faces. By contrast, our findings are consistent with models of face processing that propose that invariant physical aspects of faces and changeable social cues can be processed interdependently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-274
Number of pages20
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • visual adaptation
  • emotion
  • face processing
  • aftereffects
  • social cues
  • human neural system
  • facial expression
  • perceptual integrality
  • route hypothesis
  • unfamiliar faces
  • identity
  • adaptation
  • recognition
  • representations


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