Viewpoint-dependent recognition of familiar faces

Nikolaus F. Troje, Daniel J Kersten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The question whether object representations in the human brain are object-centered or viewer-centered has motivated a variety of experiments with divergent results. A key issue concerns the visual recognition of objects seen from novel views. If recognition performance depends on whether a particular view has been seen before, it can be interpreted as evidence for a viewer-centered representation. Earlier experiments used unfamiliar objects to provide the experimenter with complete control over the observer's previous experience with the object. In this study, we tested whether human recognition shows viewpoint dependence for the highly familiar faces of well-known colleagues and for the observer's own face. We found that observers are poorer at recognizing their own profile, whereas there is no difference in response time between frontal and profile views of other faces. This result shows that extensive experience and familiarity with one's own face is not sufficient to produce viewpoint invariance. Our result provides strong evidence for viewer-centered representations in human visual recognition even for highly familiar objects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)483-487
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999


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