Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

In Recognizing Faces, the Whole is Not Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

12.03.2012
How do we recognize a face? To date, most research has answered “holistically”: We look at all the features—eyes, nose, mouth—simultaneously and, perceiving the relationships among them, gain an advantage over taking in each feature individually. Now a new study overturns this theory.
The researchers—Jason M. Gold and Patrick J. Mundy of the Indiana University and Bosco S. Tjan of the University of Southern California—found that people’s performance in recognizing a whole face is no better than their performance with each individual feature shown alone. “Surprisingly, the whole was not greater than the sum of its parts,” says Gold. The findings appear in the journal Psychological Science, which is published by the Association for Psychological Science.

To predict each participant’s best possible performance in putting together the individual features, the investigators used a theoretical model called an “optimal Bayesian integrator” (OBI). The OBI measures someone’s success in perceiving a series of sources of information—in this case, facial features—and combines them as if they were using the sources together just as they would when perceiving them one by one. Their score recognizing the combination of features (the whole face) should equal the sum of the individual-feature scores. If the whole-face performance exceeds this sum, it implies that the relationships among the features enhanced the information processing—that is, “holistic” facial recognition exists.

In the first experiment participants were shown fuzzy images of three male and three female faces. Then either one feature—a left or right eye, nose, or mouth—or all four in proper face-like relationships appeared on the screen. That image would disappear and, if they saw an eye, all six eyes would appear; if a whole face, six whole faces. The participants clicked on the feature or face they’d just seen. In a second experiment, the whole-face images were superimposed on face-shaped ovals—in case such context helps holistic recognition, as is often claimed. In both experiments, participants’ performance with the whole faces was no better than with the isolated features—and no better than the OBI—indicating that the facial features were not processed holistically when shown in combination.

“The OBI offers a clearly defined mathematical framework for studying what historically has been a rather loosely defined set of concepts,” says Gold.

The findings may offer promise in understanding the cognitive disorder prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces, and could also help in constructing better face-recognition software for security. But the real value, says Gold, is in basic research. “If you want to understand the complexities of the human mind, then understanding the basic processes that underlie how we perceive patterns and objects is an important part of that puzzle.”

For more information about this study, please contact: Jason M. Gold at jgold@indiana.edu.

The APS journal Psychological Science is the highest ranked empirical journal in psychology. For a copy of the article "The Perception of a Face Is No More Than the Sum of Its Parts" and access to other Psychological Science research findings, please contact Lucy Hyde at 202-293-9300 or lhyde@psychologicalscience.org.

Lucy Hyde | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psychologicalscience.org

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>