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

Posters (78):

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 (26):

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.
Bülthoff I (June-2010) Abstract Talk: Die Wechselwirkung von Identität und Geschlecht bei der Gesichtswahrnehmung, 36. Tagung "Psychologie und Gehirn", Greifswald, Germany 16.
Armann R and Bülthoff I (October-2008) Abstract Talk: Categorical Perception of Male and Female Faces and the Single-Route Hypothesis, 9th Conference of the Junior Neuroscientists of Tübingen (NeNa 2008), Ellwangen, Germany(13).
Gaissert N, Wallraven C and Bülthoff I (August-2008) Abstract Talk: Visual and haptic perceptual representations of complex 3-D objects, 31st European Conference on Visual Perception, Utrecht, Netherlands, Perception, 37(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 125.
Bülthoff I (January-2006): Investigating face recognition with voices and face morphs, Face Mini-Symposium: Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Zentrum für Neurobiologie des Verhaltens, Göttingen, Gemany.
Bülthoff I and Newell F (September-2005) Abstract Talk: Accuracy in face recognition: Better performance for face identification with changes in identity and caricature but not with changes in sex, Fifth Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2005), Sarasota, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 5(8) 379.
Bülthoff I (August-2005): Shape perception for object recognition and face categorization, 28th European Conference on Visual Perception, A Coruña, Spain, Perception, 34(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 21.
Bülthoff I and Newell FN (August-2004) Abstract Talk: Distinctive auditory information improves visual face recognition, Fourth Annual Meeting of the Vision Sciences Society (VSS 2004), Sarasota, FL, USA, Journal of Vision, 4(8) 139.
Bülthoff HH, Edelman S and Bülthoff I (September-1996) Abstract Talk: Features of the representation space for 3D objects, 19th European Conference of Visual Perception, Strasbourg, France, Perception, 25(ECVP Abstract Supplement) 49-50.
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Last updated: Monday, 22.05.2017