[Seminar]Face Perception. using a morphable face model to determine what makes a face look Asian or Caucasian and what makes a face attractive and why?

Isabelle Buelthoff
Wednesday, October 24th 2012, 3:30pm
302동 106호


For German observers, Koreans look far more similar to each other than Germans do and vice-versa. This phenomenon is referred to as the other-race effect (ORE). So far, this ORE was described in tasks involving faces that did not differ only in ethnicity, but also in identity. In the first study that I will present, we dissociated ethnicity from identity information to create pairs of faces that share similar identity information but differ in ethnicity. For each face pair, participants reported which face looked more Asian or more Caucasian. We tested participants from Korea and Germany. Both groups of participants showed equal performance for same-race (high expertise) and other-race pairs (low expertise). Thus they showed no evidence of an other-race effect when ethnicity was the only varying factor between the faces to compare. Participants’ cultural background, however, affected their eye movement strategy. In our second study about ethnicity, mixed-race (Asian and Caucasian) faces were created by embedding one facial feature of one ethnicity (e.g. Caucasian mouth) in a face of the other ethnicity (e.g. Asian face). The influence of each exchanged facial feature on the ethnicity perception for the face it was embedded in was assessed in an ethnicity classification task. The results show that the eyes and the texture (skin) are major determinants of ethnicity classification for both Asian and Caucasian observers. In the last part of my presentation, I will talk more generally about what makes a face attractive and why.

Speaker Bio

Isabelle Bülthoff did her studies in “Natural Sciences with emphasis on zoology” at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. After her studies, she moved to Tübingen in Germany in 1979. In 1983 she obtained her PhD in Zoology from the University of Lausanne for her neuroscience work on fly vision using the deoxyglucose method (an early method of brain imaging). This work had been performed at the Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. After her PhD, she got a grant from the Swiss National Fonds for a postdoctoral fellowship at this Max-Planck Institute to work on the pharmacological aspect of motion detection in flies until 1985. After a child-rearing period, she worked for two and half years at the department of Neuroscience at Brown University (1990-1993) in Providence (USA), studying pyramidal neurons in the rat neocortex before moving back to Germany. Back at the Max Planck Institute for biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, she started working on human vision in 1993. After working on object recognition and biological motion, she is now a project leader in the field of human visual recognition and categorization at this institute. Her major interest lies in the field of face recognition