Navigation Links
Can't place that face?
Date:7/28/2010

A specific area in our brains is responsible for processing information about human and animal faces, both how we recognize them and how we interpret facial expressions. Now, Tel Aviv University research is exploring what makes this highly specialized part of the brain unique, a first step to finding practical applications for that information.

In her "Face Lab" at Tel Aviv University, Dr. Galit Yovel of TAU's Department of Psychology is trying to understand the mechanisms at work in the face area of the brain called the "fusiform gyrus" of the brain. She is combining cognitive psychology with techniques like brain imaging and electrophysiology to study how the brain processes information about faces. Her most recent research on the brain's face-processing mechanisms was published in the Journal of Neuroscience and Human Brain Mapping.

The study of face recognition does more than provide an explanation for embarrassing memory lapses. For instance, it may help business executives better match names with faces, and more important can lead to better facial recognition software to identify terrorists or criminals. Similar to faces, bodies are also processed by distinct brain areas. How we perceive faces is not totally intuitive, she says, and therefore raises the question of how this information is combined in our brain to understand how separate face and body areas generate a whole body-image impression.

Identifying "face blindness"

In her research, Dr. Yovel has found that we are better able to recognize faces when we regularly see and interact with them in meaningful settings. It's as though the face-processing sections of the brain ― the fusiform face area being the most distinct ― recognizes faces holistically. Additions to your face, such as a beard or glasses, are assimilated into or incorporated into the face recognition gestalt of the brain, unlike other elements that are irrelevant to facial recognition, such as the chair you're sitting on. This may be why fashions in hairstyle and eyewear have become so important to personal appearance, she theorizes.

The inability to recognize faces is more common than most people think. Dr. Yovel says that two percent of all people are born with "face blindness," scientifically known as prosopagnosia. She hopes her research will enable these people to train themselves, via software and other methods, to better differentiate one face from another especially when the face is that of a loved one.

Recognizing the faces you meet

"Faces are important," says Dr. Yovel, who first began to study the neurological basis of face recognition as a post-doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "We meet so many people every day, on the street or at work, and should know whether or not each face is important to us. In principle, faces are very similar to one another. That's probably why we've evolved these complex and specialized face areas in the brain ― so that we can more accurately discriminate among the countless faces we encounter throughout our lives."

Dr. Yovel hopes her studies will lead to new algorithms that can help computers do a better job of recognizing faces, as well as help people who somehow lack this critical social skill. She is currently collaborating with computer scientists at Tel Aviv University to explore new computational algorithms for facial recognition.


'/>"/>

Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Online release of North American industrial pollution data reveals significant reporting gaps
2. Scientists identify seamounts as significant, unexplored territory
3. Significant findings about protein architecture may aid in drug design, generation of nanomaterials
4. New discovery is a significant boost to cancer research
5. Researchers issue outlook for a significant New England red tide in 2010
6. Black carbon a significant factor in melting of Himalayan glaciers
7. UVa engineers find significant environmental impacts with algae-based biofuel
8. Solar-powered irrigation significantly improves diet and income in rural sub-Saharan Africa
9. Miscanthus, a biofuels crop, can host western corn rootworm
10. Toxicants detected in Asian monkey hair may warn of environmental threats to people and wildlife
11. UNH prof. receives nearly $500,000 to research environmentally significant plants
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/21/2016)... -- Unique technology combines v ...   Xura, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... communications services, today announced it is working alongside SpeechPro ... particularly those in the Financial Services Sector, the ability ... a mobile app, alongside, and in combination with, traditional ...
(Date:3/15/2016)... -- Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew ... Hebrew University, announced today the formation of Neteera ... human biological indicators. Neteera Technologies has completed its first ... ... emissions from sweat ducts, enables reliable and speedy biometric ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... -- --> --> ... Market by Technology (Pattern Recognition), by Component (Hardware, Software, ... (On-Premises and Cloud), by Industry Vertical and by Region ... global market is expected to grow from USD 12.49 ... at a CAGR of 19.1%. , ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/25/2016)... ... May 25, 2016 , ... Scientists at the University of Athens ... for mesothelioma may be hampering the research that could lead to one good one. ... to read it now. , The team evaluated 98 mesothelioma patients ...
(Date:5/25/2016)... Connecticut (PRWEB) , ... May 25, 2016 , ... ... the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted the company’s orphan drug ... the company’s second orphan drug designation granted by the FDA. , Spinocerebellar ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... La Jolla, CA (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2016 , ... ... and financial planning for corporate executives and entrepreneurs, held The Future of San Diego ... leaders in the San Diego life science community attended the event with speakers Dr. ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... ... May 23, 2016 , ... PrecisionAg® Media has ... 2017 and Beyond. The paper outlines the key trends that are creating both ... “We’ve witnessed a lot of highs and lows as the precision agriculture market ...
Breaking Biology Technology: