Navigation Links
New research about facial recognition turns common wisdom on its head

A team of researchers that includes a USC scientist has methodically demonstrated that a face's features or constituents more than the face per se are the key to recognizing a person.

Their study, which goes against the common belief that brains process faces "holistically," appears this month in Psychological Science.

In addition to shedding light on the way the brain functions, these results may help scientists understand rare facial recognition disorders.

Humans are great at recognizing faces. There are even regions in the brain that are specifically associated with face perception the most well-known one is the fusiform gyrus in the temporal lobe.

Common wisdom has it that humans recognize the face "holistically," meaning that there is something about the picture created by the entire face the particular arrangement of a face's eyes, nose, and mouth and not just these features themselves that makes it easier for the human brain to make a positive ID.

That common wisdom appears to be wrong.

"There is this belief that faces are special," said the study's coauthor Bosco Tjan, associate professor of psychology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. "But why? How is the face special?"

To use an automotive metaphor, would it be easier for a car aficionado to identify a '58 Corvette by its distinctive quad headlights, chunky chrome grille and swoop on the side or if shown the car that all these pieces make when added together?

Tjan and collaborators Jason M. Gold, associate professor of psychology at Indiana University, Bloomington and IU undergraduate student Patrick J. Mundy tested participants on how accurately they were able to identify a set of faces by the parts of those faces the nose, left eye, right eye or mouth.

Then, using a well-established formula that Tjan developed in an earlier study, the researchers extrapolated how accurately each participant should be able to identify an entire face.

If humans were better at face recognition than nose or eye recognition, one would expect each participant to do a better job of identification when the features are all arranged together into a face. But in fact, the participants did a little worse than predicted by Tjan's formula.

Facial recognition, it appears, hinges on recognizing the face's features more than the "holistic" picture they add up to create.


Contact: Robert Perkins
University of Southern California

Related biology news :

1. Step forward in research into new treatments for brain edema
2. Researchers discover novel therapy for Crohns disease
3. UC research: Tracking Lake Erie water snake in fight against invasive fish
4. UC research tests new tool to guide reintroduction of the American chestnut
5. Record-breaking grant: New research project to investigate the causes of mental disorders
6. Genetic research develops tools for studying diseases, improving regenerative treatment
7. Researchers reveal how a single gene mutation leads to uncontrolled obesity
8. Columbia Engineering and Penn researchers increase speed of single-molecule measurements
9. New research lowers past estimates of sea-level rise
10. Researchers print live cells with a standard inkjet printer
11. Researchers uncover molecular pathway through which common yeast becomes fungal pathogen
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/2/2015)... , Nov. 2, 2015  SRI International has been ... provide preclinical development services to the National Cancer Institute ... will provide scientific expertise, modern testing and support facilities, ... preclinical pharmacology and toxicology studies to evaluate potential cancer ... The PREVENT Cancer Drug Development Program is an ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 2015  The J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) policy ... and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and Options for the Future," ... Human Services guidance for synthetic biology providers has worked ... --> --> Synthetic biology promises ... to pose unique biosecurity threats. It now is easier ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., today announced ... of its DNA library preparation products, including the ... ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has been optimized ... NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis of cell-free ... applications in cancer and other conditions. Eurofins Scientific ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015 /CNW/ - iCo Therapeutics ("iCo" or "the ... results for the quarter ended September 30, 2015. ... dollars and presented under International Financial Reporting Standards ... ," said Andrew Rae , President & ... are not only value enriching for this clinical ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... 24, 2015  Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical ... today announced that the company has set a new quarterly earnings ... on quarter growth posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of ... Mexico , with the establishment of an ... --> United Kingdom and Mexico ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... Massachusetts , November 24, 2015 SHPG ... will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare ... Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). ... , Chief Financial Officer, will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 ... , NY on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Twist Bioscience, a ... Emily Leproust, Ph.D., Twist Bioscience chief executive officer, ... Conference on December 1, 2015 at 3:10 p.m. ... York City. --> ... . Twist Bioscience is on Twitter. Sign up ...
Breaking Biology Technology: