Isabel Gauthier

Isabel Gauthier
Vanderbilt University | Vander Bilt · Department of Psychology

PhD

About

291
Publications
67,329
Reads
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18,642
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 1998 - present
Vanderbilt University
Position
  • David K WIlson Professor

Publications

Publications (291)
Article
Food neophobia (FN), or the tendency to avoid novel foods, is associated with poor health. Most correlates of FN come from self-report, making it difficult to identify behavioral correlates that may be treatment targets. To begin to fill this gap, we explore the association between FN and the ability to visually recognize images of prepared food. W...
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Visual object recognition depends in large part on a domain-general ability (Richler et al. Psychol Rev 126(2): 226–251, 2019). Given evidence pointing towards shared mechanisms for object perception across vision and touch, we ask whether individual differences in haptic and visual object recognition are related. We use existing validated visual t...
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Visual arts require the ability to process, categorize, recognize, and understand a variety of visual inputs. These challenges may engage and even influence mechanisms that are also relevant for visual object recognition beyond visual arts. A domain-general object recognition ability that applies broadly across a range of visual tasks was recently...
Article
Viewers can summarize redundant features in groups of objects into an ensemble percept. There appears to be separate mechanisms underlying ensemble perception of low- and high-level visual features, but it is unclear whether ensemble perception of different low-level features is supported by common mechanisms. Yörük and Boduroglu, in Attention, Per...
Article
When seeing groups of objects, various features can be extracted to form an ensemble representation, including low-level features such as orientation and higher-level features like facial expression. Past research proposed distinct abilities for ensemble coding of high-level versus low-level visual features, but the only complex objects used were f...
Article
There is recent evidence for a domain-general object recognition ability, called O, which is distinct from general intelligence and other cognitive and personality constructs. We extend the study of O by characterizing how it generalizes to the ability to recognize familiar objects and to the ability to make judgments of the average identity of ens...
Article
Musical practice may benefit not only domain-specific abilities, such as pitch discrimination and music performance, but also domain-general abilities, like executive functioning and memory. Behavioral and neural changes in visual processing have been associated with music-reading experience. However, it is still unclear whether there is a domain-s...
Article
People can make judgments about statistical properties of visual features within groups of objects, such as the average size, size variability, or numerosity of circles. Emerging from recent work is the view that these kinds of visual estimations, collectively dubbed ensemble perception, rely on independent abilities that are specific to the statis...
Article
When objects from two categories of expertise (e.g., faces and cars in dual car/face experts) are processed simultaneously, competition occurs across a variety of tasks. Here, we investigate whether competition between face and car processing also occurs during ensemble coding. The relationship between single object recognition and ensemble coding...
Article
Object representations from convolutional neural network (CNN) models of computer vision (LeCun, Bengio, & Hinton, 2015) were used to drive a cognitive model of decision making, the linear ballistic accumulator (LBA) model (Brown & Heathcote, 2008), to predict errors and response times (RTs) in a novel object recognition task in humans. CNNs have b...
Article
People can relatively easily report summary properties for ensembles of objects, suggesting that this information can enrich visual experience and increase the efficiency of perceptual processing. Here, we ask whether the ability to judge diversity within object arrays improves with experience. We surmised that ensemble judgments would be more accu...
Article
Holistic processing is inferred from a number of effects, many of which suggest that people generally find it difficult to process face parts independently. The study of holistic processing using faces has revealed many failures of convergence across different measures, as well as very poor reliability. New tasks designed for individual-differences...
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People with superior face recognition have relatively thin cortex in face-selective brain areas, whereas those with superior vehicle recognition have relatively thick cortex in the same areas. We suggest that these opposite correlations reflect distinct mechanisms influencing cortical thickness (CT) as abilities are acquired at different points in...
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Visual art is pervasive in modern society. From advertising to fine arts galleries, this medium plays a visible role in how we view and understand the world. In this review, we consider research that speaks to whether our experiences with art can change the way we see. Numerous studies speak, often indirectly, to this question—addressing whether ar...
Preprint
People with superior face recognition have relatively thin cortex in face-selective brain areas, while those with superior vehicle recognition have relatively thick cortex in the same areas. We suggest that these opposite correlations reflect distinct mechanisms influencing cortical thickness (CT) for abilities acquired at different points in devel...
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Several studies have found that individuals from small hometowns show diminished face recognition ability as compared with individuals from larger hometowns. We further this line of research by relating six measures of face recognition ability to hometown density. We predicted that the three face recognition ability measures which included a learni...
Article
The study of perceptual expertise in a visual domain requires the definition of boundaries for the objects that are part of the domain in question. Unlike other well-studied domains, such as faces or words, the domain of musical notation has been lacking in efforts to identify critical features that define the objects of music reading. In the prese...
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Holistic processing refers to the processing of objects as wholes rather than in a piecemeal, part-based fashion. Despite a suggested link between expertise and holistic processing, the role of experience in determining holistic processing of both faces and objects has been questioned. Here, we combine an individual differences approach with an exp...
Article
There is substantial evidence for individual differences in personality and cognitive abilities, but we lack clear intuitions about individual differences in visual abilities. Previous work on this topic has typically compared performance with only 2 categories, each measured with only 1 task. This approach is insufficient for demonstration of doma...
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Neuroimaging provides a unique tool to investigate otherwise difficult-to-access mental processes like visual imagery. Prior studies support the idea that visual imagery is a top-down reinstatement of visual perception, and it is likely that this extends to object processing. Here we use functional MRI and multi-voxel pattern analysis to ask if men...
Data
Average accuracies of the across-task classifier (train imagery-test perception, Fig 4) overlaid on top of the within-task classifier (train imagery-test imagery, Fig 3) for object versus car (left) and face versus object (middle) and face versus car (right) two-way classifications in face-selective ROIs (upper row) and object-selective ROIs (lower...
Data
Reports average classifier accuracies when the classifier is trained on imagery runs and then tested on perception runs and vice versa. In both Tables 2 and 3 we also report classification accuracies for an early visual cortex region (EVC). These regions (one right and one left) were a single set of 27 contiguous function voxels (729 structural vox...
Data
Reports average classifier accuracies when the classifier is trained on perception and then tested on imagery runs. (DOCX)
Data
Run 1 and Run 2 parameter weights for the two perception runs. Fixation is used as the baseline. Run 2 parameter weights that are significantly lower than Run 1 parameter weights (one-tailed) are denoted with an asterisk. (DOCX)
Article
Recent reports have shown that individuals from small hometowns show relatively poor face recognition ability as measured by the Cambridge Face Memory Test or CFMT (Balas & Saville, 2015; 2017), suggesting that the number of faces present in an individual's visual environment relates to that individual's face recognition ability. We replicate this...
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Recent work suggests that some aspects of lung nodule detection ability may relate to object recognition ability. However, this work only sampled radiological novices. Here, we further investigate whether object recognition ability predicts lung nodule detection ability (as measured by the Vanderbilt Chest Radiograph Test or VCRT), after controllin...
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The Vanderbilt Holistic Processing Test for faces (VHPT-F) is the first standard test designed to measure individual differences in holistic processing. The test measures failures of selective attention to face parts through congruency effects, an operational definition of holistic processing. However, this conception of holistic processing has bee...
Article
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Visual object expertise correlates with neural selectivity in the fusiform face area (FFA). Although behavioral studies suggest that visual expertise is associated with increased use of holistic and configural information, little is known about the nature of the supporting neural representations. Using high-resolution 7-T functional magnetic resona...
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Research in visual object recognition has largely focused on mechanisms common to most people, but there is increased interest in whether and how people differ in the ability to recognize objects and faces. New tests with a variety of familiar categories are being created and validated to measure domain-specific abilities. Because variability in ex...
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The presence of differential item functioning (DIF) in a test suggests bias that could disadvantage members of a certain group. Previous work with tests of visual learning abilities found significant DIF related to age groups in a car test (Lee, Cho, McGugin, Van Gulick, & Gauthier, 2015), but not in a face test (Cho et al., 2015). The presence of...
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In this inaugural editorial, Isabel Gauthier, the incoming editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance , introduces the new team of associate editors and discusses increasing women's representation on the editorial board as one of her first priorities. Gauthier also discusses her concerns with the publication...
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Radiologists make many important decisions when detecting nodules on chest radiographs. While training can result in high levels of performance of this task, there could be individual differences in relevant perceptual abilities that are present pre-training. A pre-requisite to address this question is a valid and reliable measure of such abilities...
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Seeing pictures of objects activates the motor cortex and can have an influence on subsequent grasping actions. However, the exact nature of the motor representations evoked by these pictures is unclear. For example, action plans engaged by pictures could be most affected by direct visual input and computed online based on object shape. Alternative...
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In tests of object recognition, individual differences typically correlate modestly but nontrivially across familiar categories (e.g. cars, faces, shoes, birds, mushrooms). In theory, these correlations could reflect either global, non-specific mechanisms, such as general intelligence (IQ), or more specific mechanisms. Here, we introduce two separa...
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The expertise hypothesis suggests the fusiform face area (FFA) is more responsive to faces than to other categories because of experience individuating faces. Accordingly, individual differences in FFA's selectivity for faces should relate to differences in behavioral face-recognition ability. However, previous studies have not demonstrated this, w...
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The part-whole paradigm was one of the first measures of holistic processing and it has been used to address several topics in face recognition, including its development, other-race effects, and more recently, whether holistic processing is correlated with face recognition ability. However the task was not designed to measure individual difference...
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This article is written in response to a Progressions article by Kanwisher in the Journal of Neuroscience, The Quest for the FFA and Where It Led (Kanwisher, 2017). I reflect on the extensive research program dedicated to the study of how and why perceptual expertise explains the many ways that faces are special, a research program which both preda...
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When there is a gender effect, women perform better then men in face recognition tasks. Prior work has not documented a male advantage on a face recognition task, suggesting that women may outperform men at face recognition generally either due to evolutionary reasons or the influence of social roles. Here, we question the idea that women excel at...
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The Vanderbilt Holistic Face Processing Test (VHPT-F) is a new measure of holistic face processing with better psychometric properties relative to prior measures developed for group studies (Richler et al., 2014). In fields where psychologists study individual differences, validation studies are commonplace and the concurrent validity of a new meas...
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How do we recognize objects despite changes in their appearance? The past three decades have been witness to intense debates regarding both whether objects are encoded invariantly with respect to viewing conditions and whether specialized, separable mechanisms are used for the recognition of different object categories. We argue that such dichotomo...
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Face recognition ability varies widely in the normal population and there is increasing interest in linking individual differences in perception to their neural correlates. Such brain-behavior correlations require that both the behavioral measures and the selective BOLD responses be reliable. The reliability of the location of the fusiform face are...
Article
Several studies using reliable measures of individual differences in object recognition with several object categories find that car recognition ability shares little to no variance with other object recognition abilities. In fact, car recognition is at least as independent from the recognition of other non-face categories as face recognition. Cons...
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Just as people vary in their perceptual expertise with a given domain, they also vary in their abilities to imagine objects. Visual imagery and perception share common mechanisms. However, it is unclear whether domain-specific expertise is relevant to visual imagery. Although the vividness of visual imagery is typically measured as a domain-general...
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Are face and object recognition abilities independent? Although it is commonly believed that they are, Gauthier et al.(2014) recently showed that these abilities become more correlated as experience with nonface categories increases. They argued that there is a single underlying visual ability, v, that is expressed in performance with both face and...
Chapter
Face perception is a critical and complex cognitive operation, and it poses unique the cognitive demands. This chapter addresses the question of whether face perception can be viewed as a cognitive phenotype. Evidence from neurophysiological and neuropsychological studies are summarized that reflect specialization of parts of the visual system for...
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Humans can selectively attend to information in visual scenes. Learning from previous experiences plays a role in how visual attention is subsequently deployed. For example, visual search times are faster in areas that are statistically more likely to contain a target (Jiang and Swallow in Cognition, 126(3), 378-390, 2013). Here, we examined whethe...
Article
The Vanderbilt Expertise Test for cars (VETcar) is a test of visual learning for contemporary car models. We used item response theory to assess the VETcar and in particular used differential item functioning (DIF) analysis to ask if the test functions the same way in laboratory versus online settings and for different groups based on age and gende...
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Visual attention can be implicitly associated with spatial locations that are informative, in environment-based or viewer-based reference frames (Chun & Jiang, 1998; Jiang & Swallow, 2012). Features can also capture attention differently depending on spatial context (Anderson, 2014). In prior work we suggested that category-selective attentional bi...
Article
Perceptual expertise with an object category correlates with increased neural selectivity to that category in several visual areas, with the most robust effects in the fusiform face area (FFA). While expertise effects in FFA are well established, little is known about the representations that underlie these effects. Prior work in training studies w...
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The Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT, Duchaine & Nakayama, 2006) is a measure of face recognition ability. It was designed to prevent use of salient diagnostic features, problematic in older tests, and is expected to promote holistic processing, a hallmark strategy of face recognition. However, the actual strategy used on the CFMT has not been dire...
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The response to non-face objects in the face selective fusiform face area (FFA) can predict behavioral performance for these objects, but such results are often disregarded because experts may pay more attention to objects in their domain of expertise. We report an effect of expertise with objects in FFA that cannot be explained by differential att...
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How much do people differ in their abilities to recognize objects, and what is the source of these differences? To address the first question, psychologists have created visual learning tests including the Cambridge Face Memory Test (Duchaine & Nakayama, 2006) and the Vanderbilt Expertise Test (VET; McGugin et al., 2012). The second question requir...
Article
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Previous work found a small but significant relationship between holistic processing measured with the composite task and face recognition ability measured by the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT; Duchaine & Nakayama, 2006). Surprisingly, recent work using a different measure of holistic processing (Vanderbilt Holistic Face Processing Test [VHPT-F]...
Article
Attention helps us focus on what is most relevant to our goals, and prior work has shown that aspects of attention can be learned. Learned inattention to parts can abolish holistic processing of faces, but it is unknown whether learned attention to parts is sufficient to cause a change from part-based to holistic processing with objects. We trained...
Article
We evaluated the psychometric properties of the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT; Duchaine & Nakayama, 2006). First, we assessed the dimensionality of the test with a bifactor exploratory factor analysis (EFA). This EFA analysis revealed a general factor and 3 specific factors clustered by targets of CFMT. However, the 3 specific factors appeared t...
Chapter
Full-text available
This chapter examines how extensive experience in a specific domain leads to perceptual expertise in visual object recognition. The visual system appears to optimize the processing of objects for the tasks that were carried out on them in the past. The study of perceptual expertise illustrates how long-term experience with associating specific task...
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We review recent work that shows how learning to categorize objects changes how those objects are represented in the mind and the brain. After category learning, visual perception of objects is enhanced along perceptual dimensions that were relevant to the learned categories, an effect we call dimensional modulation (DM). DM stretches object repres...
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Category learning facilitates perception along relevant stimulus dimensions, even when tested in a discrimination task that does not require categorization. While this general phenomenon has been demonstrated previously, perceptual facilitation along dimensions has been documented by measuring different specific phenomena in different studies using...
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Using the Garner speeded classification task, Amishav and Kimchi (Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 17, 743-748, 2010) found that participants could selectively attend to face features: Classifying faces based on the shape of the eyes was not influenced by task-irrelevant variation in the shape of the mouth, and vice versa. This result contrasts with...
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Efforts to understand individual differences in high-level vision necessitate the development of measures that have sufficient reliability, which is generally not a concern in group studies. Holistic processing is central to research on face recognition and, more recently, to the study of individual differences in this area. However, recent work ha...
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As car expertise increases, so does interference between the visual processing of faces and that of cars; this suggests performance trade-offs across domains of real-world expertise. Such interference between expert domains has been previously revealed in a relatively complex design, interleaving 2-back part-judgment task with faces and cars (Gauth...
Article
Holistic processing is a hallmark of face processing. There is evidence that holistic processing is strongest for faces at identification distance 2–10 metres from the observer. However, this evidence is based on tasks that have been little used in the literature and that are indirect measures of holistic processing. We use the composite task—a wel...