Viewing faces of one sex changes the perception of subsequently seen ambiguous faces. Here we investigate if the mechanisms responsible for this sex aftereffect are also activated during mental imagery of faces. Participants categorized the sex of ambiguous faces after either viewing images of male or female actors' faces or imagining these same faces. As in previous studies, the ambiguous images were categorized as female more often after viewing male faces than after viewing female faces. The opposite effect was found for imagined faces, however; the ambiguous images were categorized as female more often after imagining female faces than after imagining male faces. While our results are inconsistent with findings that imagined faces cause either no aftereffects or similar aftereffects to visually presented faces, our results are consistent with recent evidence that visual and imagined presentation of faces cause opposite adaptation effects on an early electrophysiological response associated with face processing.
- categorical perception