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Face adaptation to gender: Does adaptation transfer across age categories?

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We examined gender adaptation effects for the faces of children and adults and measured the transfer of these effects across age categories. Face gender adaptation is defined by a bias to classify the gender of a gender-neutral face to be opposite to that of an adapting face. An androgynous face, for example, appears male following adaptation to a female face. Participants adapted to male or female faces from the two age categories and classified the gender of morphed adult and child faces from a male-female morph trajectory. Gender adaptation effects were found for children's and adults' faces and for the transfer between the age categories. The size of these effects was comparable when participants adapted to adult faces and identified the gender of either adult or child faces, and when participants adapted to child faces and identified the gender of child faces. A smaller adaptation effect was found when participants adapted to a child's face but identified the gender of an adult's face. The results indicate an interconnected and partially shared representation of the gender information for child and adult faces. The lack of symmetry in adaptation transfer between child and adult faces suggests that adaptation to adult faces is more effective than adaptation to child faces in activating a gender representation that generalizes across age categories.
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Keywords: Adaptation; Face recognition; Facial age; Gender categories; Perceptual learning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Psychology, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA 2: Program in Cognition and Neuroscience, University of Texas at Dallas, Dallas, TX, USA

Publication date: 01 May 2009

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