Stimulus-specific effects in face recognition over changes in viewpoint

Alice J. O'Toole, Shimon Edelman, Heinrich H. Bülthoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


Individual faces vary considerably in both the quality and quantity of the information they contain for recognition and for viewpoint generalization. In the present study, we assessed the typicality, recognizability, and viewpoint generalizability of individual faces using data from both human observers and from a computational model of face recognition across viewpoint change. The two-stage computational model incorporated a viewpoint alignment operation and a recognition-by-interpolation operation. An interesting aspect of this particular model is that the effects of typicality it predicts at the alignment and recognition stages dissociate, such that face typicality is beneficial for the success of the alignment process, but is adverse for the success of the recognition process. We applied a factor analysis to the covariance data for the human- and model-derived face measures across the different viewpoints and found two axes that appeared consistently across all viewpoints. Projection scores for individual faces on these axes (i.e. the extent to which a face's 'performance profile' matched the pattern of human- and model-derived scores on that axis), correlated across viewpoint changes to a much higher degree than did the raw recognizability scores of the faces. These results suggest that the stimulus information captured in the model measures may underlie distinct and dissociable aspects of the recognizability of individual faces across viewpoint change.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2351-2363
Number of pages13
JournalVision Research
Issue number15-16
Publication statusPublished - 1998 Aug


  • Face recognition
  • Human
  • Model
  • Viewpoint change

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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