Seminar Series

Neural Basis of Face Recognition

Whereas people can readily describe how they are able to distinguish between two highly similar objects (such as birds on the same page in a bird guide), they are at a loss in describing the difference between the faces of Tom Cruise and John Travolta. A remarkably simple account—that the representation of faces relies on a stage that retains aspects of early cortical spatial filtering--may be able to explain the ineffability of faces and a wide variety of other phenomena distinguishing face from object recognition, such as why the recognition of faces, but not objects, is so severely disrupted by contrast negation (as when viewing a photographic negative) or orientation inversion and why the primary complaint of prosopagnosics is not that faces are blurry but that they all look the same.