Navigation Links
MIT: Why we have difficulty recognizing faces in photo negatives
Date:3/18/2009

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--Humans excel at recognizing faces, but how we do this has been an abiding mystery in neuroscience and psychology. In an effort to explain our success in this area, researchers are taking a closer look at how and why we fail.

A new study from MIT looks at a particularly striking instance of failure: our impaired ability to recognize faces in photographic negatives. The study, which appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week, suggests that a large part of the answer might lie in the brain's reliance on a certain kind of image feature.

The work could potentially lead to computer vision systems, for settings as diverse as industrial quality control or object and face detection. On a different front, the results and methodologies could help researchers probe face-perception skills in children with autism, who are often reported to experience difficulties analyzing facial information.

Anyone who remembers the days before digital photography has probably noticed that it's much harder to identify people in photographic negatives than in normal photographs. "You have not taken away any information, but somehow these faces are much harder to recognize," says Pawan Sinha, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences and senior author of the PNAS study.

Sinha has previously studied light and dark relationships between different parts of the face, and found that in nearly every normal lighting condition, a person's eyes appear darker than the forehead and cheeks. He theorized that photo negatives are hard to recognize because they disrupt these very strong regularities around the eyes.

To test this idea, Sinha and his colleagues asked subjects to identify photographs of famous people in not only positive and negative images, but also in a third type of image in which the celebrities' eyes were restored to their original levels of luminance, while the rest of the photo remained in negative.

Subjects had a much easier time recognizing these "contrast chimera" images. According to Sinha, that's because the light/dark relationships between the eyes and surrounding areas are the same as they would be in a normal image.

Similar contrast relationships can be found in other parts of the face, primarily the mouth, but those relationships are not as consistent. "The relationships around the eyes seem to be particularly significant," says Sinha.

Other studies have shown that people with autism tend to focus on the mouths of people they are looking at, rather than the eyes, so the new findings could help explain why autistic people have such difficulty recognizing faces, says Sinha.

The findings also suggest that neuronal responses in the brain may be based on these relationships between different parts of the face. The team found that when they scanned the brains of people performing the recognition task, regions associated with facial processing (the fusiform face areas) were far more active when looking at the contrast chimeras than when looking at pure negatives.


'/>"/>

Contact: Elizabeth Thomson
thomson@mit.edu
617-258-5402
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Children with autism dont adapt as readily to unfamiliar faces
2. New method reveals substances on surfaces of any kind
3. US faces burning emissions issue
4. Biocapture surfaces produced for study of brain chemistry
5. Videos extract mechanical properties of liquid-gel interfaces
6. Its all about geometry: Protein contact surfaces hold key to cures
7. Asias odd-ball antelope faces migration crisis
8. Killer pulses help characterize special surfaces
9. Pre-cancerous condition linked to chronic acid reflux faces several hurdles
10. Coating copies microscopic biological surfaces
11. UCSB study finds physical strength, fighting ability revealed in human faces
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/2/2016)... Calif. , Feb. 2, 2016  Based ... market, Frost & Sullivan recognizes US-based Intelligent Retinal ... Frost & Sullivan Award for New Product Innovation. ... in North America , is ... the rapidly growing diabetic retinopathy market. The IRIS ...
(Date:1/27/2016)... , Jan. 27, 2016  Rite Track, Inc. a ... West Chester, Ohio announced today ... service staff, based in Austin, Texas ... ability to provide modifications, installations and technical support offerings ... CEO of PLUS, commented, "PLUS has provided world class ...
(Date:1/21/2016)... --> ... report "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by Technology (Bio-Sensors, NLP, ... Voice Recognition and Others), Services, Application Areas, End ... published by MarketsandMarkets, the global Emotion Detection and ... Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 31.9%, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Global Stem Cells ... with Singapore-based Global Stem Cells Network (GSCN) and its affiliate Global Medical ... the latest adipose and bone marrow therapies. , Through the new collaboration, ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... ... February 08, 2016 , ... Date ... S. Blumberg Institute at the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County, 3805 Old ... Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC) will hold an open house for participants to learn ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... Angeles, CA (PRWEB) , ... February 09, 2016 ... ... and strategic changes over the years and Open Access publishing is one of ... , With its 700+ open access journals and 3000+ International ...
(Date:2/9/2016)... , February 9, 2016 Three-Year Initiative ... Children to Take Part in Life-Changing Camp ... initiative designed to positively affect the lives of children born with ... --> SHPG ) is announcing a new initiative designed ... as well as the future of rare disease care. --> ...
Breaking Biology Technology: