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

I lead the group Recognition and Categorization of the department Human Perception, Cognition and Action.

 

My research concerns human face recognition. To that end, I use primarily psychophysical methods, eye-tracking, immersive virtual environments and face images derived from our face database.

 

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, not only do we recognize identity or sex, but we also notice, for example, signs of tiredness, sadness or age.

 

Main projects:

While we are expert in face recognition in general, we process and retrieve information about familiar and unfamiliar faces differently. We use preferably the inner features for recognizing familiar faces, while for unfamiliar faces we pay more attention to and keep in memory more likely extra-facial information like hairdo, glasses or beards. In one project, I investigate the recognition of personally familiar faces, as they are the faces that we remember best. With these faces, we can test how precisely facial information related to sex, race or identity is memorized. I concentrate on those aspects of faces, as we use those attributes most osten to describe or classify faces. Our results give insight about how very familiar faces are represented in memory. They reveal that facial information regarding sex and race are represented only very coarsely in memory, while those linked to identity are encoded very precisely.

 

Another line of study (in collaboration with the Space and Body Perception group) uses the advantages of virtual reality to investigate face recognition under more natural conditions. Most studies so far tested isolated static faces. In our project, observers moved physically in a virtual room to look at the faces of life-size avatars. We compared the recognition performance of this active group to that of other groups with different learning conditions. Overall, the active group performed better than the other groups.

 

In collaboration with Mintao Zhao, and other colleagues, additional projects investigate, among others, holistic processing of faces, the other-race effect and the influence of voices on face recognition.

 

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

Other projects:

  • 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 whether one or another part of the face (eyes, mouth…) has more influence on perceived ethnicity of that face. This work is done 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.
  • Influence of body size on face recognition. 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 Malta, Malta) and Betty Tesch (Mohler).

Current project in more details:

Personally familiar faces: Higher precision of memory for idiosyncratic than for sex or race facial information

Introduction

We process and retrieve information about familiar and unfamiliar faces differently. We use preferably the inner features for recognizing familiar faces, while for unfamiliar faces we keep in memory more likely extra-facial information like hairdo, glasses or beards1. Testing memory of very familiar faces allows us to test how precisely different types of facial information are memorized.

Goals

We investigate whether facial information related to either sex, race or identity might be remembered more precisely than the others. We concentrate on those aspects, as they represent some attributes that we use most commonly to describe or classify faces. The results will give insight about how very familiar faces are represented.

Methods

The faces of members of the department were used as personally familiar test faces and the members of the department were our participants. The veridical faces were manipulated2 in increasing manner in four different ways: they were (1) morphed with other identities, (2) caricatured and anti-caricatured, (3) made more feminine looking and more masculine looking and (4) made more Caucasian looking and more Asian looking. In each test trial, a veridical face was shown with its distracters (the faces obtained with one of the four manipulations). Participants had to find the veridical face among the distracters.

Initial results

Figure 1 shows that participants chose the veridical face most frequently when the distracters were identity morphs, while this was not the case for the other manipulations.

Initial conclusion

Our results reveal that for personally familiar faces, their facial information regarding sex and race are represented only very coarsely in memory, while those linked to identity are encoded very precisely.

Figure 1

Left: Mean choice frequency for veridical faces and their identity morphs. Right: Mean choice frequency for veridical faces and their race morphs. Stars denote values differing significantly from chance level.

References

1. Johnston, R. A., & Edmonds, A. J. (2009). Familiar and unfamiliar face recognition: A review. Memory, 17(5), 577–596.

2. Blanz, V., & Vetter, T. (1999). A morphable model for the synthesis of 3D faces. In Proceedings of the 26th annual conference on Computer graphics and interactive techniques - SIGGRAPH ’99 (pp. 187–194). New York, New York, USA: ACM Press.

 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

Posters (82):

Bülthoff I, Srismith D and Zhao M (March-25-2017): Visual Working Memory of Own- and Other-Race faces, Second Biennial International Convention of Psychological Science (ICPS 2017), Wien, Austria.
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, Perception, 45(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 313.
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, Perception, 45(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 27.
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, Journal of Vision, 16(12) 925.
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, Journal of Vision, 16(12) 731.
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, Journal of Vision, 16(12) 280.
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.
Fademrecht L, Barraclough NE, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (August-2015): Seeing actions in the fovea influences subsequent action recognition in the periphery, 38th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2015), Liverpool, UK, Perception, 44(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 214.
Zhao M and Bülthoff I (March-12-2015): Memory of Own- and Other-Race Faces: Influences of Encoding and Retention Processes, International Convention of Psychological Science (ICPS 2015), Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (August-2014): A matter of perspective: action recognition depends on stimulus orientation in the periphery, 37th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2014), Beograd, Serbia, Perception, 43(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 103.
Zhao M and Bülthoff I (August-2014): Long-term memory for own- and other-race faces, 37th European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2014), Beograd, Serbia, Perception, 43(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 76.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (June-2014): Peripheral Vision and Action Recognition, 6th International Conference on Brain and Cognitive Engineering (BCE 2014), Tübingen, Germany.
Zhao M, Hayward WG and Bülthoff I (June-2014): Race of Face Affects Various Face Processing Tasks Differently, 6th International Conference on Brain and Cognitive Engineering (BCE 2014), Tübingen, Germany.
Esins J, Bülthoff I and Schultz J (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, Journal of Vision, 14(10) 1436.
Zhao M and Bülthoff I (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, Journal of Vision, 14(10) 1262.
Fademrecht L, Bülthoff I and de la Rosa S (May-20-2014): Influence of eccentricity on action recognition, 14th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2014), St. Pete Beach, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 14(10) 1006.
Dobs K, Schultz J, Bülthoff I 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 and Bülthoff I (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, Bülthoff I and Armann R (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, Bülthoff I, Breidt M, Vuong QC, Curio C and Schultz JW (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, Bülthoff I, Thornton I, Lee S-W and Armann R (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, Schultz J, Kim BR, Wallraven C and Bülthoff I (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, Bülthoff I, Kennerknecht I and Schultz J (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, Bülthoff I, Curio C and Schultz J (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 (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, Schultz J, Kim BR, Wallraven C and Bülthoff I (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 and Bülthoff I (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, Waterkamp S, van Dam L and Bülthoff I (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, Kleiner M, Bülthoff I, Schultz J and Curio C (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, Bülthoff I, Ammann R, Wallraven C and Bülthoff HH (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, Bülthoff I and Schultz J (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, Shrimpton S, Mohler BJ and Thornton IM (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, Lee RK, Wallraven C and Bülthoff HH (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.
Armann RGM, Jeffery L, Calder A, Bülthoff I and Rhodes G (May-2010): Race-specific norms for coding face identity and a functional role for norms, 10th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2010), Naples, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 10(7) 706.
Bülthoff I (August-2009): Sex categorization is influenced by facial information about identity, 32nd European Conference on Visual Perception, Regensburg, Germany, Perception, 38(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 78.
Gaissert N, Wallraven C and Bülthoff I (July-2009): From unsupervised to supervised categorization in vision and haptics, 10th International Multisensory Research Forum (IMRF 2009), New York, NY, USA.
Armann R and Bülthoff I (August-2008): Categorical perception of male and female faces and the single-route hypothesis, 31st European Conference on Visual Perception, Utrecht, Netherlands, Perception, 37(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 117.
Bülthoff I and Vuong QC (August-2007): The effect of context in face and object recognition, 30th European Conference on Visual Perception, Arezzo, Italy, Perception, 36(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 146.
Bülthoff I, Wolf T and Thornton IM (July-2007): Looking Down, Looking Up: Does Stature Influence Face Recognition?, 10th Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 2007), Tübingen, Germany.
Armann R and Bülthoff I (July-2007): Sex Matters When You Ask the Right Question: What Affects Eye Movements in Face Comparison Tasks?, 10th Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 2007), Tübingen, Germany.
Armann R and Bülthoff I (June-2007): Sex matters when you ask the right question: What affects eye movements in face comparison tasks?, 7th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2007), Sarasota, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 7(9) 5.
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Michel C, Rossion B, Hayward W, Bülthoff I and Vuong Q (June-2007): The role of surface and shape information in the other-race face effect, 7th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2007), Sarasota, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 7(9) 7.
Bülthoff I and Newell FN (August-2006): Cross-modal interaction can modulate face distinctiveness, 29th European Conference on Visual Perception, St. Petersburg, Perception, 35(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 204.
Bülthoff I and Newell FN (June-2006): Voices, not arbitrary sounds, prime the recognition of familiar faces, 6th Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2006), Sarasota, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 6(6) 10.
Bülthoff I and Newell FN (March-2006): Face Distinctiveness can be Modulated by Cross-Modal Interaction with Auditory Stimuli, 9th Tübingen Perception Conference (TWK 2006), Tübingen, Germany.
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Last updated: Monday, 22.05.2017