This study explores the effect of individuation training on the acquisition of race-specific expertise. First, we investigated whether practice individuating other-race faces yields improvement in perceptual discrimination for novel faces of that race. Second, we asked whether there was similar improvement for novel faces of a different race for which participants received equal practice, but in an orthogonal task that did not require individuation. Caucasian participants were trained to individuate faces of one race (African American or Hispanic) and to make (...) difficult eye-luminance judgments on faces of the other race. By equating these tasks we are able to rule out raw experience, visual attention, or performance/success-induced positivity as the critical factors that produce race-specific improvements. These results indicate that individuation practice is one mechanism through which cognitive, perceptual, and/or social processes promote growth of the own-race face recognition advantage. (shrink)
Does feature evolution stop once we have acquired sufficient features to perform a recognition task? With extended practice, novices may develop a more sophisticated feature space that allows them to perform more accurately or quickly. Our work on perceptual expertise indicates that feature learning and reorganization can continue even after an initial set of features is available to represent a novel class of objects.