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Introduction. High variation in the low-level proprieties of visual stimuli and varying degrees of familiarity with famous faces may have caused a bias in the results of investigations that tried to disentangle the processes involved in familiar and unfamiliar face processing (e.g., temporal differences in the detection of the first event-related potentials specialized in face processing may have been caused by different methods of controlling variance in the low-level proprieties of visual stimuli). Objective. To address these problems, we developed a freely available database of 183 famous faces whose low-level proprieties (brightness, size, resolution) have been homogenized and the level of familiarity established. Method. The brightness of the stimuli was standardized by a custom-developed algorithm. The size and the resolution of the pictures were homogenized in Gimp. The familiarity level of the famous faces was established by a group of 48 Portuguese college students. Results. Our results suggest that the brightness of each image did not differ significantly from the mean brightness value of the stimuli set, confirming the standardizing ability of the algorithm. Forty-one famous faces were classified as highly familiar. Main findings and implications. This study provides two important resources, as both the algorithm and the database are freely available for research purposes. The homogenization of the low-level features and the control of the level of familiarity of the famous faces included in our database should ensure that they do not elicit confounding effects such as the ones verified in past studies.
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