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 (29):

Zhao M, Bülthoff HH and Bülthoff I (April-2016) A shape-based account for holistic face processing Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 42(4) 584-597.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (February-2016) Action recognition in the visual periphery Journal of Vision 16(3:33) 1-14.
Zhao M, Bülthoff HH and Bülthoff I (February-2016) Beyond Faces and Expertise: Facelike Holistic Processing of Nonface Objects in the Absence of Expertise Psychological Science 27(2) 213-222.
Dahl CD, Rasch MJ, Bülthoff I and Cheng C-C (February-2016) Integration or separation in the processing of facial properties: a computational view Scientific Reports 6(20247) 1-9.
Esins J, Schultz J, Stemper C, Kennerknecht I and Bülthoff I (January-2016) Face Perception and Test Reliabilities in Congenital Prosopagnosia in Seven Tests i-Perception 7(1) 1-37.
Bülthoff I and Newell FN (April-2015) Distinctive voices enhance the visual recognition of unfamiliar faces Cognition 137 9–21.
Zhao M, Hayward WG and Bülthoff I (December-2014) Holistic processing, contact, and the other-race effect in face recognition Vision Research 105 61–69.
Lee I-S, Lee A-R, Lee H, Park H-J, Chung S-Y, Wallraven C, Bülthoff I and Chae Y (December-2014) Psychological distress and attentional bias toward acne lesions in patients with acne Psychology, Health & Medicine 19(6) 680-686.
Esins J, Schultz J, Wallraven C and Bülthoff I (September-2014) Do congenital prosopagnosia and the other-race effect affect the same face recognition mechanisms? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8(759) 1-14.
Esins J, Schultz J, Bülthoff I 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.
Zhao M, Hayward WG and Bülthoff I (August-2014) Face format at encoding affects the other-race effect in face memory Journal of Vision 14(9:6) 1-13.
Brielmann AA, Bülthoff I and Armann R (July-2014) Looking at faces from different angles: Europeans fixate different features in Asian and Caucasian faces Vision Research 100 105–112.
Dobs K, Bülthoff I, Breidt M, Vuong QC, Curio C and Schultz J (July-2014) Quantifying human sensitivity to spatio-temporal information in dynamic faces Vision Research 100 78–87.
Michel C, Rossion B, Bülthoff I, Hayward WG and Vuong QC (December-2013) The contribution of shape and surface information in the other-race face effect Visual Cognition 21(9-10) 1202-1223.
Zhao M and Bülthoff I (October-2013) The other-race effect in face recognition is sensitive to face format at encoding Visual Cognition 21(6) 722-725.
Gaissert N, Waterkamp S, Fleming RW and Bülthoff I (August-2012) Haptic Categorical Perception of Shape PLoS One 7(8) 1-7.
Bülthoff I (July-2012) Review: L'empreinte Des Sens Perception 41(7) 881-882.
Armann R and Bülthoff I (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 and Bülthoff I (July-2009) Gaze behavior in face comparison: The roles of sex, task, and symmetry Attention, Perception and Psychophysics 71(5) 1107-1126.
Bülthoff I and Newell F (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 and Bülthoff I (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, Bülthoff HH and Sinha P (July-1998) Top-down influences on stereoscopic depth-perception Nature Neuroscience 1(3) 254-257.
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Kersten D, Knill DC, Mamassian P and Bülthoff I (January-1996) Illusory motion from shadows Nature 379(6560) 31.
Bülthoff HH and Bülthoff I (March-1987) GABA-antagonist inverts movement and object detection in flies Brain Research 407(1) 152-158.
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Bülthoff HH and Bülthoff I (February-1987) Combining Neuropharmacology and Behavior to Study Motion Detection in Flies Biological Cybernetics 55(5) 313-320.
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Bülthoff I (March-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(2) 195-202.
Rodrigues V and Bülthoff I (May-1985) Freeze-substitution of Drososphila heads for subsequent 3H-2-deoxyglucose autoradiography Journal of Neuroscience Methods 13(3-4) 183-190.
Bülthoff I and Buchner E (January-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(1) 25-34.
Buchner E, Buchner S and Bülthoff I (July-1984) Deoxyglucose mapping of nervous activity induced in Drosophila brain by visual movement. 1. Wildtype Journal of Comparative Physiology 155(4) 471-483.

Conference papers (2):

Pavlova MA, Sokolov AN and Bülthoff I (August-1998) Prime-orientation dependence in detection of camouflaged biological motion In: Fechner Day 98, , 14th Annual Meeting of the International Society for Psychophysics, International Society for Psychology, Quebec, Canada, 314-319.
Pavlova MA, Sokolov AN and Bülthoff I (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 (5):

Bülthoff I, Armann RGM, Lee RK and Bülthoff HH: The Other-Race Effect Revisited: No Effect for Faces Varying in Race Only, 153-165. In: Recent Progress in Brain and Cognitive Engineering, (Ed) S.-W. Lee, Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, (2015).
Bülthoff I and Newell FN: 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 and Bülthoff HH: Objektwahrnehmung, 165-172. In: Handbuch der Allgemeinen Psychologie: Kognition, (Ed) J. Funke, Hogrefe, Göttingen, Germany, (2006).
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Bülthoff I and Bülthoff HH: 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 I: Mapping nervous activity in visual mutants of Drosophila melanogaster with the deoxyglucose method, 171-175. In: La vision chez les invertébrés, (Ed) P. Clement, Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France, (1984).

Technical reports (3):

Bülthoff I and Newell FN: 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, Bülthoff HH and Sinha P: View-based representations for dynamic 3D object recognition, 47, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany, (February-1997).
Edelman S, Bülthoff HH and Bülthoff I: Features of the representation space for 3D objects, 40, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tübingen, Germany, (September-1996).
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Posters (78):

Srismith D, Zhao M and Bülthoff I (September-1-2016): Precise Representation of Personally, but not Visually, Familiar Faces, 39th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2016), Barcelona, Spain.
Zhao M and Bülthoff I (August-29-2016): Holistic Processing of Static and Rigidly Moving Faces, 39th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2016), Barcelona, Spain.
Dobs K, Bülthoff I and Reddy L (May-16-2016): Optimal integration of facial form and motion during face recognition, 16th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2016), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA.
Zhao M and Bülthoff I (May-15-2016): Holistic Processing of Unfamiliar Line Patterns, 16th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2016), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA.
Fademrecht L, Nieuwenhuis J, Bülthoff I, Barraclough N and de la Rosa S (May-14-2016): Does action recognition suffer in a crowded environment?, 16th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2016), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I, Barraclough NE and de la Rosa S (October-18-2015): The spatial extent of action sensitive perceptual channels decrease with visual eccentricity, 45th Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (Neuroscience 2015), Chicago, IL, USA.
Dobs K, Schultz J, Bülthoff I and Gardner JL (September-2015): Independent control of cortical representations for expression and identity of dynamic faces, 15th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2015), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 15(12) 684.
Zhao M and Bülthoff I (September-2015): Intrinsic Memorability Predicts Short- and Long-Term Memory of Static and Dynamic Faces, 15th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2015), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 15(12) 698.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (September-2015): Recognition of static and dynamic social actions in the visual periphery, 15th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2015), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 15(12) 494.
Bülthoff I and Zhao M (September-2015): What Type of Facial Information Underlies Holistic Face Processing?, 15th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2015), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 15(12) 145.
Bülthoff I, Mohler B and Thornton IM (August-2015): Active and passive exploration of faces, 38th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2015), Liverpool, UK, Perception, 44(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 51.
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Last updated: Tuesday, 18.11.2014