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 (84):

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.
Bülthoff I (February-2005): Sensitivity to changes in identity, caricature and sex in face recognition, 8th Tübingen Perception Conference (TWK 2005), Tübingen, Germany.
Bülthoff I and Newell FN (September-2004): Interactions between audition and vision for face recognition, 27th European Conference on Visual Perception, Budapest, Hungary, Perception, 33(ECVP 2004 Abstract Supplement) 108.
Bülthoff I, Klatzky RL and Newell FN (February-2004): Haptic Magnitude Estimates of Size for Graspable Shapes, 7th Tübingen Perception Conference (TWK 2004), Tübingen, Germany.
Bülthoff I, Newell FN and Bülthoff HH (November-2003): Interaction between vision and audition in face recognition, 44th Annual Meeting of The Psychonomic Society, Vancouver, Canada, Abstracts of the Psychonomic Society, 8 57.
Bülthoff I and Newell FN (October-2003): Interaction between vision and speech in face recognition, Third Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2003), Sarasota, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 3(9) 825.
Bülthoff I and Newell FN (February-2003): Cross-modal Aspect of Face Distinctiveness, 6. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 2003), Tübingen, Germany.
Bülthoff I (November-2002): No categorical perception of face gender found with different discrimination tasks, Second Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2002), Sarasota, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 2(7) 620.
Bülthoff I (February-2002): Face gender is not perceived categorically, 5. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 2002), Tübingen, Germany.
Knappmeyer B, Tappe C and Bülthoff I (February-2002): Recognizing faces across different views: does caricaturing help?, 5. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 2002), Tübingen, Germany.
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Bülthoff I and Newell FN (December-2001): Gender, average heads and categorical perception, First Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2001), Sarasota, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 1(3) 281.
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Bülthoff I and Newell FN (August-2001): Average faces and gender categories: no evidence of categorical perception, Twenty-fourth European Conference on Visual Perception, Kuşadasi, Turkey, Perception, 30(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 54.
Cheng CY, Knappmeyer B and Bülthoff I (November-16-2000): The caricature effect across viewpoint changes in face perception, 8th Annual Workshop on Object Perception and Memory (OPAM 2000), New Orleans, LA, USA.
Bülthoff I and Newell FN (August-2000): Investigating categorical perception of gender with 3-D morphs of familiar faces, 23rd European Conference on Visual Perception (ECVP 2000), Groningen, Netherlands, Perception, 29(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 57.
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Bülthoff I and Newell FN (May-2000): There is no categorical effect for the discrimination of face gender using 3D-morphs of laser scans of heads, Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO 2000), Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 41(4) S225.
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Bülthoff I, Newell FN and Vetter T (February-1999): Geschlechtswahrnehmung von Gesichtern, die durch 3D-Morph-Verfahren erzeugt wurden, 2. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 99), Tübingen, Germany.
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Bülthoff I, Newell FN, Vetter T and Bülthoff HH (August-1998): Gender perception of 3-D head laser scans, 21st European Conference on Visual Perception, Oxford, UK, Perception, 27(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 127.
Bülthoff I, Newell FN, Vetter T and Bülthoff HH (August-1998): Gender perception of 3D head laser scans, 21st European Conference on Visual Perception, Oxford, UK, Perception, 27(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 127.
Pavlova MA, Bülthoff I and Sokolov AN (August-1998): Perception of a camouflaged point-light walker: a differential priming effect, 21st European Conference on Visual Perception, Oxford, UK, Perception, 27(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 123.
Newell FN, Bülthoff I, Vetter T and Bülthoff HH (May-1998): Effects of shape and texture on the perceptual categorization of gender in faces, Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO 1998), Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 39(4) 173.
Bülthoff I, Newell FN, Vetter T and Bülthoff HH (May-1998): Is the gender of a face categorically perceived?, Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO 1998), Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 39(4) 171.
Pavlova MA, Sokolov AN and Bülthoff I (February-1998): Masking a point-light walker, 1. Tübinger Wahrnehmungskonferenz (TWK 98), Tübingen, Germany.
Edelman S, Bülthoff HH and Bülthoff I (April-1996): Interdependence of feature dimensions in the representation of 3D objects, Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 37(3) S1125.
Bülthoff I, Sinha P and Bülthoff HH (April-1996): Top-down influence of recognition on stereoscopic depth perception, Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO 1996), Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 37(3) 1125.
Bülthoff I and Sinha P (August-1995): Recognizing biological motion sequences, 18th European Conference on Visual Perception, Tübingen, Germany, Perception, 24(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 112.
Sinha P, Bülthoff HH and Bülthoff I (May-1995): View-based representations for biological motion sequences, Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO 1995), Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 36(4) S417.
Bülthoff I, Kersten D and Bülthoff HH (May-1994): General lighting can overcome accidental viewing, Annual Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO 1994), Sarasota, FL, USA, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 35(4) 1741.
Bülthoff HH and Bülthoff I (May-1985): Pharmacological inversion of directional specificity in movement detectors, Annual Spring Meeting of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO 1985), Sarasota, FL, USA, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, 26(3) 56.
Bülthoff HH and Bülthoff I (May-1985): Umkehrung der Bewegungs- und Objektwahrnehmung durch einen GABA-Antagonisten bei Fliegen, 78. Jahresversammlung der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft, Wien, Austria, Verhandlungen der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft, 78 223.
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Bülthoff HH, Bülthoff I and Schmid A (June-1984): Beeinflussung der Bewegungsdetektion durch Neuropharmaka, 77. Jahresversammlung der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft, Giessen, Germany, Verhandlungen der Deutschen Zoologischen Gesellschaft, 77 276.
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Talks (28):

Kim J, Bülthoff I and Bülthoff HH (July-27-2017) Abstract Talk: Visual Perception of Tactile Roughness: An fMRI study, Europe-Korea Conference on Science and Technology (EKC 2017), Stockholm, Sweden.
Schultz J, Kaulard K, Pilz P, Dobs K, Bülthoff I, Fernandez-Cruz A, Brockhaus B, Gardner J and Bülthoff HH (March-27-2017) Abstract Talk: Neural processing of facial motion cues about identity and expression, 59th Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TeaP 2017), Dresden, Germany 32-33.
Bülthoff I and Newell FN (March-27-2017) Abstract Talk: Voice distinctiveness influences unfamiliar face recognition, 59th Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TeaP 2017), Dresden, Germany 11-12.
Zhao M and Bülthoff I (September-21-2016) Invited Lecture: Memory of Own- and Other-Race Faces: Influences of Encoding and Retention Processes, 50. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Psychologie (DGPs 2016), Leipzig, Germany.
Bülthoff I (November-30-2014) Invited Lecture: Faces, Face Categories and the Other-Race Effect, IZN Retreat 2014 "Neuroscience Perspectives: Transition from Science to Industry and Back", Kloster Schöntal, Germany.
Bülthoff I and Zhao M (June-28-2014) Invited Lecture: Perception of Race Information in Same-Race and Other-Race Faces, 6th International Conference on Brain and Cognitive Engineering (BCE 2014), Tübingen, Germany.
Bülthoff I (March-28-2014) Invited Lecture: Perception of race information in same-race and other-race faces, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern: Wahrnehmung - Public talk series, Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Bülthoff I (December-12-2013) Invited Lecture: What is important in a face for race classification and person identification?, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, Fachbereich Sozialwissenschaften: Forschungskolloquium WS 2013/14, Kaiserslautern, Germany.
Zhao M and Bülthoff I (November-14-2013) Abstract Talk: The other-race effect in face recognition is sensitive to face format at encoding, 21st Annual Conference on Object Perception, Attention, and Memory (OPAM 2013), Toronto, ON, Canada.
Zhao M and Bülthoff I (November-6-2013) Invited Lecture: The other-race effect in face recognition is sensitive to face format at encoding, The University of Hong Kong: Department of Psychology Seminar, Hong Kong, China.
Bülthoff I (May-31-2013) Invited Lecture: Wie viel Wahrheit steckt in der Wahrnehmung? / Quelle vérité se cache dans la perception?, Symposium der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Histologietechnik, Bern, Switzerland.
Bülthoff I (October-24-2012) Invited Lecture: Face Perception: Using a morphable face model to determine what makes a face look Asian or Caucasian and what makes a face attractive and why?, Seoul National University: Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Seoul, South Korea.
Kim BR, Esins J, Schultz J, Bülthoff I and Wallraven C (July-15-2012) Abstract Talk: Mapping the other-race-effect in face recognition using a three-experiment test battery, 8th Asia-Pacific Conference on Vision (APCV 2012), Incheon, South Korea, i-Perception, 3(9) 711.
Bülthoff I (June-7-2012) Invited Lecture: Faces and beauty, 10th Anniversary Year of Cognitec Systems GmbH, Radebeul, Germany.
Bülthoff I (February-9-2012) Invited Lecture: Was macht ein Gesicht hübsch?, Lehrerfortbildung des Schülerlabors Neurowissenschaften: Ästhetische Empfindungen, Emotionen und neuronale Aktivität, Tübingen, Germany.
Lee RK, Bülthoff I, Armann R, Wallraven C and Bülthoff HH (July-2011) Abstract Talk: Investigating the other-race effect in different face recognition tasks, 7th Asia-Pacific Conference on Vision (APCV 2011), Hong Kong, i-Perception, 2(4) 355.
Bülthoff I (June-20-2011) Invited Lecture: Interplay between identity and sex recognition in familiar faces, Workshop "Yet another journey through computation", Genova, Italy.
Armann RGM, Jeffery L, Calder AJ, Bülthoff I and Rhodes G (August-2010) Abstract Talk: Faces are represented relative to race-specific norms, 33rd European Conference on Visual Perception, Lausanne, Switzerland, Perception, 39(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 155.
Bülthoff I (June-18-2010) Invited Lecture: Interplay between identity and sex recognition in familiar faces, Universität Bremen: Zentrum für Kognitionswissenschaften (ZKW), Bremen, Germany.
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Last updated: Monday, 22.05.2017