Is it possible to enhance face recognition skills? The effect of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and image-variability training

Kho, Siew Kei (2024) Is it possible to enhance face recognition skills? The effect of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and image-variability training. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham Malaysia.

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Face recognition ability is important for social interaction that occurs in our everyday lives. Given the importance of faces in social interactions, losing the ability to recognize faces may produce devastating consequences for an individual’s social life. Improvement of face recognition ability is important not only for individuals with facial recognition deficits, but also for national security. Thus, the main aim of this thesis is to examine the effect of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and cognitive training on own- and other-race face recognition.

Chapter two focuses on examining the role of the occipital face area (OFA) and the fusiform face area (FFA) in the recognition of individual facial features and whole faces using multifocal tDCS. The results indicated that multifocal tDCS applied to the FFA led to increased efficiency for facial feature recognition while no effect of OFA stimulation on either facial feature or whole face recognition was found. Chapter three investigated how anodal and cathodal tDCS could affect the recognition of own- and other-race faces. In the course of this study, we created and evaluated a new Asian version of the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT) (i.e., CFMT – Chinese Malaysian (CFMT-MY)). Our evaluation of the CFMT-MY showed high consistency and high reliability and therefore exhibits potential utility in facilitating the diagnosis of individuals with difficulty in face recognition in clinical settings, the measurement of individual differences in face recognition ability and the measurement of the other-race effect. However, we found no effect of a-tDCS and c-tDCS on either own- or other-race face recognition.

Chapter four focuses on the benefits of learning identity via multiple high variation exposure on own- and other-race faces. The findings showed enhanced own-race face learning (i.e., face recognition and face-name association) for identities learned in high variability condition compared to low variability condition. However, identities learned in high variability condition only benefited other-race face recognition, but not face-name association. Finally, chapter five aims to examine if the benefits of learning identity via high variation multiple exposure could be applied to individuals with prosopagnosia. We found no effect of variability on face learning for either suspected developmental prosopagnosics (DP) or neurotypical participants.

Overall, our results showed that tDCS improved facial feature recognition but not own- and other-race whole face recognition. Thus, tDCS might have limited effects on improving face recognition. Additionally, our results showed enhanced own- and other-race face recognition for identities learned with multiple exposure in high variation settings. However, this effect was not found for suspected DPs and neurotypical participants. This discrepancy in results could be due to the low sample size of suspected DPs and neurotypical participants in Experiment 5.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Keeble, David
Wong, Hoo Keat
Estudillo, Alejandro J.
Keywords: face processing, transcranial electrical stimulation, cognitive training
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Science and Engineering — Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 76920
Depositing User: Kho, Siew
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2024 04:40
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2024 04:40

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