The role of dynamic information in the recognition of unfamiliar faces

Mem Cognit. 1998 Jul;26(4):780-90. doi: 10.3758/bf03211397.


The effects of movement on unfamiliar face recognition were investigated. In an incidental learning task, faces were studied either as computer-animated (moving) displays or as a series of static images, with identical numbers of frames shown for each. The movements were either nonrigid transformations (changes in expression) or rigid rotations in depth (nodding or shaking). At test, participants saw either single, static images or moving sequences. Only one experiment showed a significant effect of study type, in favor of static instances. There was no additional advantage from studying faces in motion in these experiments, in which both study types showed the same amounts of information. Recognition memory was relatively unaffected by changes in expression between study and test. Effects of viewpoint change were large when expressive transformations had been studied but much smaller when rigid rotations in depth had been studied. The series of experiments did reveal a slight advantage for testing memory with moving compared with static faces, consistent with recent findings using familiar faces. Future work will need to examine whether such effects may also be due to the additional information provided by an animated sequence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Gestures
  • Head Movements
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*