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Contact

Dr. Isabelle Bülthoff

Address: Spemannstr. 38
72076 Tübingen
Room number: 001.1
Phone: +49 7071 601 611
Fax: +49 7071 601 616
E-Mail: isabelle.buelthoff

 

Picture of Bülthoff, Isabelle, Dr.

Isabelle Bülthoff

Position: Project Leader  Unit: Bülthoff

Faces are the most fascinating objects for human beings. We are never tired of looking at faces, a fact used heavily by advertising companies. In the course of our childhood, we develop a remarkable expertise at deciphering the most subtle aspects of a face, such as recognizing identity and sex, but also noticing, for example, signs of tiredness, sadness or age. I am currently investigating what kind of information we extract from faces either for recognizing them ("this is a picture of Marc") or categorizing them ("these are all Asian faces"). Furthermore, I am testing the importance of body size for face recognition (embodied cognition). In my research I use primarily face images derived from our face database, psychophysical methods, eye- tracking and immersive virtual environments (in collaboration with the PAVE group).

 

Together with Johannes Schultz, I lead the group Recognition and Categorization of the department Human Perception, Cognition and Action.

 

Projects in collaboration with PhD students of the Recognition and Categorisation group include:

 

Teaching: 

What gives a face its ethnicity?    We can quickly and easily judge faces in terms of their ethnicity.  In a series of studies, we investigate various aspects pertaining to ethnicity and the "other race effect". This work is done in part in collaboration with Korea University (BioCyb Lab in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Engineering) and involves participants of different cultural background and expertise in terms of face ethnicities. Furthermore, we used face stimuli derived from our database of Asian and Caucasian faces.  

 

Interplay between sex and identity recognition in familiar faces.   We are very good at recognizing familiar faces. In this project, I test the accuracy of our memory of familiar faces. Futhermore,  I am investigating the impact of idiosyncratic facial features on sex classification.

 

     

Face recognition: Size does not matter.   The concept of “Embodied Cognition” implies that our own bodies, the way we act with our bodies, and the way our bodies “fit” into the environment, should all have important implications for our mental representation of the world. Thus the question arises whether we represent and/or process faces in a different way depending on our body size. This work is done in collaboration with Ian Thornton (University of Swansea, UK) and Betty Tesch (Mohler). For more details on one aspect of this project, see the report below.

 

 

 

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Investigating face recognition of active observers using full-bodied avatars in a virtual environment

I. Bülthoff      

 

Introduction

Persons who are much taller or smaller than most others might develop different representations of the world around them and acquire expertise at processing other specific views of their environment. We had looked at the specific case of face recognition in a previous series of desktop experiments and there was no evidence of individuals’ height influencing their representation of others' faces or their ability to process specific views of faces [1]. However, in those experiments as in many others on face recognition [2], face orientation and body height were ambiguous as isolated faces were shown on a computer screen to a passive observer sitting on a chair.

Goals

We designed an experiment that (1) allowed to disambiguate height and orientation of the face stimuli used for face recognition and (2) presented 3D faces on a full body instead of isolated face images and (3) specifically examined the influence of learned viewpoints for face recognition when observers actively viewed 3D-faces.

Methods

A virtual museum was created that contains 20 full-bodied avatars (statues). Half of them were sitting; the others were standing (Figure 1a). Using a head-mounted display, observers walked through the museum three times, approached each statue and viewed them from any horizontal (yaw) angle without time restrictions. We equated eye-level – and thus simulated height -- for all participants and restricted their vertical movement to ensure that the faces of sitting avatars were always viewed from above and standing avatars from below with the same pitch (vertical angle). After familiarization, recognition was tested using a standard old-new paradigm in which 2D images of the learnt faces were shown from various viewpoints (Figure 1b).

Initial results

Figure 2 shows the average performance during the test phase for correctly classifying never seen faces as new and faces that had been viewed in the museum as old. The answers to old faces are separated in two groups. The groups old-congruent and old-incongruent correspond to faces viewed in the test phase either under the same orientation as during learning or under a different orientation, respectively. Participants were significantly better and faster at recognizing faces in the congruent than in the incongruent group (t(23)= 17.16, p< 0.001 and t(23)=-4.13, p = < 0.001 respectively).

 

Initial conclusion

We found a clear influence of learned viewpoint during familiarization. Faces of sitting avatars were recognized more quickly and accurately when viewed from above than from another orientation. Thus, recognition of newly learned faces appears to be view-dependent in terms of pitch angle. Our failure to find a height effect in our previous study suggests that the variety of views of human faces experienced during a lifetime and possibly the preponderance of conversational situations between humans at close range typically counteracts any influence that body size might have on a person’s viewing experience of others’ faces [3].

 

 

 

  

 Museum room with avatars for face recognition exps in virtual reality

Figure 1

Left: partial view of the virtual museum. Right: Incongruent (top) and congruent (bottom) test views of the face of a sitting avatar in the partial view.

 

 ACC and RT recognition performance for Sarah's exp with conguent and inconguent views

 

Figure 2

Left: Accuracy results in percent correct (ordinate) for the new (New) and old faces show in a congruent (Old-c) or incongruent (Old-ic) orientation. Right: Reaction times in ms (ordinate) for the same groups of faces. Error bars represent SEM.

 

 

References             

1. Bülthoff, I, Wolf ,W & Ian M. Thornton, I. M.  (2009). Does your height affect the way you represent faces? Journal of Vision 9  503.

2. Wallraven, C., Schwaninger, A., Schuhmacher, S., & Bülthoff, H.H. (2002). View-Based Recognition of Faces in Man and Machine: Re-visiting Inter-Extra-Ortho 2nd international Workshop on Biologically Motivated Computer Vision, Tübingen, Germany. Lectures Notes in Computer Science, 2525, 651-660.

3. Bülthoff, I, Shrimpton, S & Ian M. Thornton, I. M.  (2011). Using avatars to explore height/pitch effects when learning new faces.  11th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2011) 11 136.

 

 Education

 

1979 Licence ès Sciences naturelles (equivalent to MA in natural Sciences in the US), University of Lausanne, Switzerland.

 

1983 Ph.D in Zoology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Doctoral Dissertation accomplished at the Max-Planck institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany.

 

 

Academic and Research Experience

 

1977-1978            Teaching assistant in Zoology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

 

1979-1983            Doctoral work. Doctoral Dissertation: “Visual mutants  of Drosophila melanogaster, functional neuroanatomical mapping of nervous activity by 3H-Deoxyglucose method”. Max-Planck institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany

 

1983-1885            Postdoctoral fellow, Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik, Tübingen, Germany, funded by the Swiss Research Foundation

 

1986-1991            Child rearing period (2 children)

 

1991-1993            Research assistant, Neuroscience Department, (Prof. Barry Connors), Brown University, RI, USA       

 

Since 09/1993       Researcher at the Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik, Tübingen, Germany

 

Since 01/2009       Project leader at the Max-Planck-Institut für biologische Kybernetik, Tübingen, Germany

 

 

Major Research Interests

 

Investigating the mechanisms underlying face recognition.  At present my focus is on the following themes:

  • The interplay between gender and identity information in face recognition
  • The impact of voice distinctiveness on face recognition
  • The influence of context and task on face recognition
  • Crosscultural differences in face and object recognition
  • The role of idiosyncratic viewing history in face recognition

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Show abstracts

Articles (19):

Esins J Person, Schultz J Person, Bülthoff I Person and Kennerknecht I (September-2014) Galactose uncovers face recognition and mental images in congenital prosopagnosia: The first case report Nutritional Neuroscience 17(5) 239-240.
Brielmann AA Person, Bülthoff I Person and Armann R Person (July-2014) Looking at faces from different angles: Europeans fixate different features in Asian and Caucasian faces Vision Research 100 105–112.
Dobs K Person, Bülthoff I Person, Breidt M Person, Vuong QC Person, Curio C Person and Schultz J Person (July-2014) Quantifying human sensitivity to spatio-temporal information in dynamic faces Vision Research 100 78–87.
Lee I-S , Lee A-R , Lee H , Park H-J , Chung S-Y , Wallraven C Person, Bülthoff I Person and Chae Y (January-2014) Psychological distress and attentional bias toward acne lesions in patients with acne Psychology, Health & Medicine Epub ahead.
Michel C , Rossion B , Bülthoff I Person, Hayward WG and Vuong QC Person (December-2013) The contribution of shape and surface information in the other-race face effect Visual Cognition 21(9-10) 1202-1223.
Zhao M Person and Bülthoff I Person (October-2013) The other-race effect in face recognition is sensitive to face format at encoding Visual Cognition 21(6) 722-725.
Gaissert N Person, Waterkamp S Person, Fleming RW Person and Bülthoff I Person (August-2012) Haptic Categorical Perception of Shape PLoS One 7(8) 1-7.
Armann R Person and Bülthoff I Person (June-2012) Male and female faces are only perceived categorically when linked to familiar identities – And when in doubt, he is a male Vision Research 63 69–80.
Armann R Person and Bülthoff I Person (July-2009) Gaze behavior in face comparison: The roles of sex, task, and symmetry Attention, Perception and Psychophysics 71(5) 1107-1126.
Bülthoff I Person and Newell F Person (October-2004) Categorical perception of sex occurs in familiar but not unfamiliar faces. Visual Cognition 11(7) 823-855.
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Edelman S , Bülthoff HH Person and Bülthoff I Person (January-1999) Effects of parametric manipulation of inter-stimulus similarity on 3D object categorization Spatial Vision 12(1) 107-123.
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Bülthoff I Person, Bülthoff HH Person and Sinha P Person (July-1998) Top-down influences on stereoscopic depth-perception Nature Neuroscience 1(3) 254-257.
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Kersten D Person, Knill DC , Mamassian P Person and Bülthoff I Person (January-1996) Illusory motion from shadows Nature 379(6560) 31-31.
Bülthoff HH Person and Bülthoff I Person (March-1987) GABA-antagonist inverts movement and object detection in flies Brain Research 407(1) 152-158.
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Bülthoff HH Person and Bülthoff I Person (February-1987) Combining Neuropharmacology and Behavior to Study Motion Detection in Flies. Biological Cybernetics 55(5) 313-320.
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Bülthoff I Person (1986) Deoxyglucose mapping of nervous activity induced in Drosophila brain by visual movement. 3. Outer rhabdomeres absent JK84, small optics lobes KS58 and no object fixation EB12, visual mutants. Journal of Comparative Physiology 158 195-202.
Rodrigues V and Bülthoff I Person (May-1985) Freeze-substitution of Drososphila heads for subsequent 3H-2-deoxyglucose autoradiography Journal of Neuroscience Methods 13(3-4) 183-190.
Bülthoff I Person and Buchner E (1985) Deoxyglucose mapping of nervous activity induced in Drosophila brain by visual movement. 2. Optomotor blind H31 and lobula plate-less N684 visual mutants. Journal of Comparative Physiology 156 25-34.
Buchner E , Buchner S and Bülthoff I Person (1984) Deoxyglucose mapping of nervous activity induced in Drosophila brain by visual movement. 1. Wildtype. Journal of Comparative Physiology 155 471-483.

Conference papers (2):

Pavlova MA , Sokolov AN and Bülthoff I Person (August-1998) Prime-orientation dependence in detection of camouflaged biological motion In: Fechner Day 98, Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the International Society for Psychophysics, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada, 314-319.
Pavlova MA , Sokolov AN and Bülthoff I Person (July-1998) Recovery of a priori known structure from biological motion In: Advances in Perception-Action Coupling, Fifth European Workshop on Ecological Psychology (EWEP 5), Editions EDK, Paris, France, 64-68.

Contributions to books (4):

Bülthoff I Person and Newell FN Person: The role of familiarity in the recognition of static and dynamic objects, 315-325. In: Visual Perception Part 1: Fundamentals of vision: Low and Mid-level processes in perception, (Ed) S. Martinez-Conde, Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands, (October-2006).
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Bülthoff I Person and Bülthoff HH Person: Objektwahrnehmung, 165-172. In: Handbuch der Allgemeinen Psychologie: Kognition, (Ed) J. Funke, Hogrefe, Göttingen, Germany, (2006).
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Bülthoff I Person and Bülthoff HH Person: Image-based recognition of biological motion, scenes and objects, 146-172. In: Perception of Faces, Objects, and Scenes: Analytic and Holistic Processes, (Ed) M.A. Peterson, Oxford University Press, New York, NY, USA, (2003).
Nicod IIB Person: Mapping nervous activity in visual mutants of Drosophila melanogaster with the deoxyglucose method., 171-175. , Eds P. Clement & R. Ramousse. Paris: Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, (1984).

Technical reports (3):

Bülthoff I Person and Newell FN Person: Categorical perception of gender: No evidence for unfamiliar faces, 094, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany, (October-2005).
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Bülthoff I Person, Bülthoff HH Person and Sinha P Person: View-based representations for dynamic 3D object recognition, 47, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany, (February-1997).
Edelman S Person, Bülthoff HH Person and Bülthoff I Person: Features of the representation space for 3D objects, 40, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany, (September-1996).
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Posters (63):

Fademrecht L Person, Bülthoff I Person and de la Rosa S Person (August-26-2014): A matter of perspective: action recognition depends on stimulus orientation in the periphery, 37th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2014), Beograd, Serbia.
Zhao M Person and Bülthoff I Person (August-26-2014): Long-term memory for own- and other-race faces, 37th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2014), Beograd, Serbia.
Esins J Person, Bülthoff I Person and Schultz J Person (May-21-2014): Facial motion does not help face recognition in congenital prosopagnosics, 14th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2014), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA.
Zhao M Person and Bülthoff I Person (May-20-2014): Face Race Affects Various Types of Face Processing, but Affects Them Differently, 14th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2014), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA.
Fademrecht L Person, Bülthoff I Person and de la Rosa S Person (May-20-2014): Influence of eccentricity on action recognition, 14th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2014), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA.
Dobs K Person, Schultz J Person, Bülthoff I Person and Gardner JL (November-10-2013): Attending to expression or identity of dynamic faces engages different cortical areas, 43rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (Neuroscience 2013), San Diego, CA, USA.
Zhao M Person and Bülthoff I Person (August-2013): Learning Faces from Multiple Viewpoints Eliminates the Other-Race Effect, 36th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2013), Bremen, Germany, Perception, 42(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 204.
Brielmann A Person, Bülthoff I Person and Armann R Person (August-2013): Looking at faces from different angles: Europeans fixate different features in Asian and Caucasian faces, 36th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2013), Bremen, Germany, Perception, 42(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 204.
Dobs K Person, Bülthoff I Person, Breidt M Person, Vuong QC Person, Curio C Person and Schultz JW Person (August-2013): Quantifying Human Sensitivity to Spatio-Temporal Information in Dynamic Faces, 36th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2013), Bremen. Germany, Perception, 42(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 197.
Jung W-M Person, Bülthoff I Person, Thornton I Person, Lee S-W and Armann R Person (May-13-2013): The Role of Race in Summary Representations of Faces, 13th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2013), Naples, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 13(9) 861.
Esins J Person, Schultz J Person, Kim BR , Wallraven C Person and Bülthoff I Person (November-2012): Comparing the other race effect and congenital prosopagnosia using a three-experiment test battery, 13th Conference of the Junior Neuroscientists of Tübingen (NeNA 2012), Schramberg, Germany.
Esins J Person, Bülthoff I Person, Kennerknecht I and Schultz J Person (September-2012): Can a test battery reveal subgroups in congenital prosopagnosia?, 35th European Conference on Visual Perception, Alghero, Italy, Perception, 41(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 113.
Dobs K Person, Bülthoff I Person, Curio C Person and Schultz J Person (August-2012): Investigating factors influencing the perception of identity from facial motion, 12th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2012), Naples, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 12(9) 35.
Bülthoff I Person (August-2012): What gives a face its ethnicity?, 12th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2012), Naples, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 12(9) 1282.
Esins J Person, Schultz J Person, Kim BR , Wallraven C Person and Bülthoff I Person (July-2012): Comparing the other-race-effect and congenital Prosopagnosia using a three-experiment test battery, 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Vision (APCV 2012), Incheon, South Korea, i-Perception, 3(9) 688.
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Jung W , Armann R Person and Bülthoff I Person (July-2012): What gives a face its race?, 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Vision (APCV 2012), Incheon, South Korea, i-Perception, 3(9) 697.
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Gaissert N Person, Waterkamp S Person, van Dam L Person and Bülthoff I Person (September-2011): Cross-modal transfer in visual and haptic object categorization, 34th European Conference on Visual Perception, Toulouse, France, Perception, 40(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 134.
Dobs K Person, Kleiner M Person, Bülthoff I Person, Schultz J Person and Curio C Person (September-2011): Investigating idiosyncratic facial dynamics with motion retargeting, 34th European Conference on Visual Perception, Toulouse, France, Perception, 40(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 115.
Lee RK Person, Bülthoff I Person, Ammann R , Wallraven C Person and Bülthoff HH Person (September-2011): The other-race effect is not ubiquitous, 11th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2011), Naples, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 11(11) 626.
Esins J Person, Bülthoff I Person and Schultz J Person (September-2011): The role of featural and configural information for perceived similarity between faces, 11th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2011), Naples, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 11(11) 673.
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Bülthoff I Person, Shrimpton S Person, Mohler BJ Person and Thornton IM Person (September-2011): Using avatars to explore height/pitch effects when learning new faces, 11th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2011), Naples, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 11(11) 596.
Bülthoff I Person, Lee RK Person, Wallraven C Person and Bülthoff HH Person (August-2010): No other-race effect found in a task using faces differering only in race-specifying information, 33rd European Conference on Visual Perception, Lausanne, Switzerland, Perception, 39(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 90.
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Last updated: Friday, 17.01.2014