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Published July 21, 2008 | Accepted Version + Published
Journal Article Open

Mechanisms of Face Perception


Faces are among the most informative stimuli we ever perceive: Even a split-second glimpse of a person's face tells us his identity, sex, mood, age, race, and direction of attention. The specialness of face processing is acknowledged in the artificial vision community, where contests for face-recognition algorithms abound. Neurological evidence strongly implicates a dedicated machinery for face processing in the human brain to explain the double dissociability of face- and object-recognition deficits. Furthermore, recent evidence shows that macaques too have specialized neural machinery for processing faces. Here we propose a unifying hypothesis, deduced from computational, neurological, fMRI, and single-unit experiments: that what makes face processing special is that it is gated by an obligatory detection process. We clarify this idea in concrete algorithmic terms and show how it can explain a variety of phenomena associated with face processing.

Additional Information

© 2008 by Annual Reviews. First published online as a Review in Advance on April 2, 2008. The authors are not aware of any biases that might be perceived as affecting the objectivity of this review.

Attached Files

Published - annurev.neuro.30.051606.094238.pdf

Accepted Version - nihms-86904.pdf


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August 19, 2023
October 19, 2023