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A much-debated question in object recognition is whether expertise for faces and expertise for non-face objects utilize common perceptual information. We investigated this issue by assessing the diagnostic information required for different types of expertise. Specifically, we asked whether face categorization and expert car categorization at the subordinate level relies on the same spatial frequency (SF) scales. Fifteen car experts and fifteen novices performed a category verification task with spatially filtered images of faces, cars, and airplanes. Images were categorized based on their basic (e.g. ‘‘car’’) and subordinate level (e.g. ‘‘Japanese car’’) identity. The effect of expertise was not evident when objects were categorized at the basic level. However, when the car experts categorized faces and cars at the subordinate level, the two types of expertise required different kinds of SF information. Subordinate categorization of faces relied on low SFs more than on high SFs, whereas subordinate expert car categorization relied on high SFs more than on low SFs. These findings suggest that expertise in the recognition of objects and faces do not utilize the same type of information. Rather, different types of expertise require different types of diagnostic visual information.


Copyright: 2013 Harel, Bentin. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.