Rapid categorization of gender from natural face images in the human brain - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2018

Rapid categorization of gender from natural face images in the human brain


Human faces are readily and automatically categorized for gender across a wide range of variable cues, a critical visual function for social interactions. To identify an implicit measure of rapid face gender categorization, we recorded scalp electroencephalogram (EEG) from 32 participants (16 females). In a first experiment, highly variable face images from one gender alternated at a rapid rate of 6 Hz (i.e., 6 images per second) with images of the other gender inserted every 6th stimuli, objectively isolating a gender categorization response at a 1 Hz rate in the EEG spectrum. In a second experiment, images from only one gender (i.e., male or female face images) were inserted at the 1 Hz categorization rate in a 6 Hz sequence of non-face objects. In the first experiment, a significant categorization response was identified for both face genders over the right occipito-temporal cortex, but the response was larger for female faces presented among males than the reverse. This asymmetrical pattern suggests either greater generalization across female than male exemplars, or a more inclusive female category. Results from the second experiment provide an answer: a larger generic face categorization response is recorded for male faces, indicating higher generalizability across male than female faces, and thus supporting the second interpretation. Importantly, these effects disappear for upside-down faces, ruling out any contribution of low-level physical variability across images. Moreover, no own-gender bias was found. Altogether, these findings reveal that rapid visual gender categorization from natural face images can be objectively isolated and quantified in the human brain in a few minutes of recording. They also suggest that male faces are highly generalizable within a well-defined category that excludes female faces, while female face category boundaries are less demarcated, female exemplars sharing some male characteristics. Keywords: face gender, categorization, EEG, fast periodic visual stimulation, frequency-tagging

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hal-03694965 , version 1 (14-06-2022)


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Diane Rekow, Jean Yves Baudouin, Bruno Rossion, Arnaud Leleu. Rapid categorization of gender from natural face images in the human brain. Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting, Assoc Research Vision Ophthalmology Inc., Rockville (United States), May 2018, St. Pete Beach, Fla, United States. pp.1339, ⟨10.1167/18.10.1339⟩. ⟨hal-03694965⟩
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