Familiarity is key: exploring the effect of familiarity on the face-voice correlation

Sarah V. Stevenage, Rebecca Edey, Rebecca Keay, Rebecca Morrison, David J. Robertson

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Recent research has examined the extent to which face and voice processing are associated by virtue of the fact that both tap into a common person perception system. However, existing findings do not yet fully clarify the role of familiarity in this association. Given this, two experiments are presented that examine face-voice correlations for unfamiliar stimuli (Experiment 1) and for familiar stimuli (Experiment 2). With care being taken to use tasks that avoid floor and ceiling effects and that use realistic speech-based voice clips, the results suggested a significant positive but small-sized correlation between face and voice processing when recognizing unfamiliar individuals. In contrast, the correlation when matching familiar individuals was significant and positive, but much larger. The results supported the existing literature suggesting that face and voice processing are aligned as constituents of an overarching person perception system. However, the difference in magnitude of their association here reinforced the view that familiar and unfamiliar stimuli are processed in different ways. This likely reflects the importance of a pre-existing mental representation and cross-talk within the neural architectures when processing familiar faces and voices, and yet the reliance on more superficial stimulus-based and modality-specific analysis when processing unfamiliar faces and voices.
Original languageEnglish
Article number112
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2024


  • face processing
  • voice processing
  • familiarity
  • person perception


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