The Locus of Holistic Processing

Olivia S. Cheung, Isabel Gauthier

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Evidence for holistic processing is observed for faces and nonface objects of expertise using several behavioral paradigms (composite task, whole-part paradigm, inversion paradigm), and holistic processing accompanies important neural signatures of face perception. Although holistic processing is assumed to have a perceptual locus, where faces are represented as unified wholes, the decisional component involved in these tasks is often overlooked-it is possible for parts to be represented independently and yet for decisions about them to not be independent. A possible decisional locus of holistic processing is suggested by studies that compare manipulations at the encoding stage versus the decisional stage, studies showing that holistic processing can be modulated by context, and studies that apply the general recognition framework and related analyses. A decisional interaction between face parts may arise due to the learned expectation that face parts change together.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPerceptual Expertise
Subtitle of host publicationBridging Brain and Behavior
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199865291
ISBN (Print)9780195309607
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010


  • Composite task
  • Decisional
  • Face processing
  • General recognition theory, response bias
  • Holistic processing
  • Inversion effect
  • Perceptual
  • Whole-part paradigm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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