Faster, stronger, lateralized: Low spatial frequency information supports face processing

Bhuvanesh Awasthi*, Jason Friedman, Mark A. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Distinct visual pathways are selectively tuned for processing specific spatial frequencies. Recently, Awasthi, Friedman, and Williams (2011) reported fast categorisation of faces at periphery, arguing for primacy of low spatial frequency (LSF) information in face processing. However, previous studies have also documented rapid categorization of places and natural scenes. Here, we tested if the LSF advantage is face specific or also involved in place perception. We used visually guided reaching as a continuous behavioral measure to examine the processing of LSF and high spatial frequency (HSF) hybrids, presented at the periphery. Subjects reached out and touched targets and their movements were recorded. The trajectories revealed that LSF interference was both 95. ms earlier and stronger for faces than places and was lateralized to the left visual field. The early processing of LSF information supports the assumption that faces are prioritised and provides a (neural) framework for such specialised processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3583-3590
Number of pages8
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Face perception
  • Low spatial frequency
  • Place perception
  • Visually guided reaching


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