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Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Cindy Bukach


The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of experience in holistic processing of faces. Although faces are processed more holistically than objects, research using non-face objects has shown that holistic processing develops for homogenous classes of objects for which an individual has expertise (Gauthier et al, 2000). Although research has indicated that experience can increase holistic processing of other-race faces (Tanaka et al. 2004; Michel et al., 2006), it is less clear whether face training can increase holistic processing of own-race faces among neurologically intact individuals. Using the traditional paradigm for training expertise in Greebles (a novel homogeneous object set;

Gauthier & Tarr, 1997), we trained undergraduates to discriminate five families of highly homogeneous faces (similar to sextuplets). In order to assess changes in holistic processing, the composite task was administered before and after face training. The composite task requires participants to make a same/different judgment to either the top or bottom of face pairs while ignoring the non-cued part. Interference from the non-cued part indicates holistic processing. Preliminary results (n = 5) suggest that such training increases holistic processing, indicating that even among normal participants, experience can enhance mechanisms associated with expert face processing.