Serial exploration of faces: Comparing vision and touch

Lisa Dopjans, Heinrich H. Bülthoff, Christian Wallraven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Even though we can recognize faces by touch surprisingly well, haptic face recognition performance is still worse than for visual exploration. One possibility for this performance difference might be due to different encoding strategies in the two modalities, namely, holistic encoding in vision versus serial encoding in haptics. Here, we tested this hypothesis by promoting serial encoding in vision, using a novel, gaze-restricted display that limited the effective field of view in vision to resemble that of haptic exploration. First, we compared haptic with gaze-restricted and unrestricted visual face recognition. Second, we used the face inversion paradigm to assess how encoding differences might affect processing strategies (featural vs. holistic). By promoting serial encoding in vision, we found equal face recognition performance in vision and haptics with a clear switch from holistic to featural processing, suggesting that performance differences in visual and haptic face recognition are due to modality-specific encoding strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Face processing strategies
  • Face recognition
  • Haptic processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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