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Face Recognition is Shaped by the Use of Sign Language

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Chloé Stoll Richard Palluel-Germain Roberto Caldara Junpeng Lao Matthew W. G. DyeFlorent Aptel Olivier Pascalis
https://academic.oup.com/jdsde/article-abstract/doi/10.1093/deafed/enx034/4107883/Face-Recognition-is-Shaped-by-the-Use-of-Sign
http://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enx034

Previous research has suggested that early deaf signers differ in face processing. Which aspects of face processing are changed and the role that sign language may have played in that change are however unclear. Here, we compared face categorization (human/non-human) and human face recognition performance in early profoundly deaf signers, hearing signers, and hearing non-signers. In the face categorization task, the three groups performed similarly in term of both response time and accuracy. However, in the face recognition task, signers (both deaf and hearing) were slower than hearing non-signers to accurately recognize faces, but had a higher accuracy rate. We conclude that sign language experience, but not deafness, drives a speed–accuracy trade-off in face recognition (but not face categorization). This suggests strategic differences in the processing of facial identity for individuals who use a sign language, regardless of their hearing status.