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<p>Face identification is primarily tuned to horizontal orientations. When asked to categorize or discriminate between facial identities, observers reach highest performance for upright faces filtered along the horizontal orientation axis. Sensitivity drops along oblique orientations until it reaches lowest performance for the vertical orientation. Observers show a high degree of inter-individual variability in their face identification orientation tuning curves, and a natural question to ask is whether this inter-individual variability stems from inter-individual variability originating early in the visual system, e.g. primary visual cortex. In this exploratory study, we reanalyzed a previously published data set to explore whether performance on a low-level contrast increment detection task (where detection of horizontal increments is worse compared to oblique increments) is predictive of performance on a high-level face identification task. One of our analyses showed that the worse observers are to detect horizontally oriented contrast increments (compared to obliquely oriented contrast increments), the stronger their face inversion effect is for faces filtered along the horizontal orientation axis. A further exploration of simple correlations between sensitivities for all conditions showed that sensitivities in the contrast increment task are correlated across observers, but not for the face identification task. Interestingly, horizontally filtered inverted faces clustered together with the sensitivities on the contrast increment task. As no such correlation was observed for upright faces, this could indicate that a horizontally filtered inverted face is processed more like the stimuli in the contrast increment task. We tentatively conclude that low-level orientation sensitivity can influence high-level face processing.</p>
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