A perceptual traffic jam on highway N170

Interference between face and car expertise

Isabel Gauthier*, Kim M. Curby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)


Whether face processing is modular or not has been the topic of a lively empirical and theoretical debate. In expert observers, the perception of nonface objects in their domain of expertise is remarkably similar to their perception of faces, in patterns of both behavioral performance and brain activation, providing some evidence against the modularity of face perception. However, the studies that have yielded these results do not rule out the possibility that object expertise and face processing occur in spatially overlapping, but functionally independent, brain regions. Recent research using an interference paradigm reveals that expert object (car) processing interferes with face processing. The level of interference was proportional to an individual's level of car expertise. These results may provide the most direct evidence to date that face and object recognition are not functionally independent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-33
Number of pages4
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Event-related potentials
  • Face recognition
  • Fusiform face area (FFA)
  • Interference
  • Modularity

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