Elastic facial movement influences part-based but not holistic processing.
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Face processing has been studied for decades. However, most of the empirical investigations have been conducted using static face images as stimuli. Little is known about whether static face processing findings can be generalized to real-world contexts in which faces are constantly moving. The present study investigated the nature of face processing (holistic vs. part-based) in elastic moving faces. Specifically, we focused on whether elastic moving faces, as compared with static ones, can facilitate holistic or part-based face processing. Using the composite paradigm, we asked participants to remember either an elastic moving face (i.e., a face that blinks and chews) or a static face, and then tested with a static composite face. The composite effect was (a) significantly smaller in the dynamic condition than in the static condition, (b) consistently found with different face encoding times (Experiments 1-3), and (c) present for the recognition of both upper and lower face parts (Experiment 4). These results suggest that elastic facial motion facilitates part-based processing rather than holistic processing. Thus, whereas previous work with static faces has emphasized an important role for holistic processing, the current work highlights an important role for featural processing with moving faces.
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