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Synchronous facial action binds dynamic facial features

Johnston, Alan; Brown, Ben B.; Elson, Ryan

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Professor of Psychology

Ben B. Brown

Ryan Elson


We asked how dynamic facial features are perceptually grouped. To address this question, we varied the timing of mouth movements relative to eyebrow movements, while measuring the detectability of a small temporal misalignment between a pair of oscillating eyebrows-an eyebrow wave. We found eyebrow wave detection performance was worse for synchronous movements of the eyebrows and mouth. Subsequently, we found this effect was specific to stimuli presented to the right visual field, implicating the involvement of left lateralised visual speech areas. Adaptation has been used as a tool in low-level vision to establish the presence of separable visual channels. Adaptation to moving eyebrows and mouths with various relative timings reduced eyebrow wave detection but only when the adapting mouth and eyebrows moved asynchronously. Inverting the face led to a greater reduction in detection after adaptation particularly for asynchronous facial motion at test. We conclude that synchronous motion binds dynamic facial features whereas asynchronous motion releases them, allowing adaptation to impair eyebrow wave detection.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 22, 2021
Online Publication Date Mar 30, 2021
Publication Date Mar 30, 2021
Deposit Date Mar 12, 2021
Publicly Available Date Apr 9, 2021
Journal Scientific Reports
Print ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Article Number 7191
Keywords Adaptation; faces; dynamic facial features; facial speech; relative motion; grouping; avatars
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