Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Can't Place That Face?

29.07.2010
The trouble may be in your neurons, TAU's "Face Lab" discovers

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.

George Hunka | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.aftau.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht The Great Unknown: Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
19.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht A sudden drop in outdoor temperature increases the risk of respiratory infections
11.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>