Image enhancement has been shown to improve face recognition by visually impaired observers. We conducted three experiments in an effort to refine our understanding of the parameters leading to this effect. In experiment 1 we found that the band of spatial frequencies between 4 and 8 cycles/face is critical for face recognition. In experiment 2 we found that enhancement of these frequencies and the resulting image distortion actually reduced recognition performance for normal observers. Since the degradation of performance by low vision is larger than the effect of distortion, the enhancement that reduces performance for normal observers may still be beneficial for the visually impaired observer. Experiment 3 found that patients tend to prefer images enhanced at frequencies higher than the critical frequencies found in experiment 1. Such individually selected enhancement did not improve recognition in comparison with uniformly applied enhancement. The lack of an enhancement effect may be due to the small variability in enhancement frequencies selected by our subject population.
© 1994 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: September 27, 1993
Revised Manuscript: January 13, 1994
Manuscript Accepted: February 1, 1994
Published: July 1, 1994
Eli Peli, Estella Lee, Clement L. Trempe, and Sheldon Buzney, "Image enhancement for the visually impaired: the effects of enhancement on face recognition," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 11, 1929-1939 (1994)