Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research shows that some features of human face perception are not uniquely human

12.04.2011
When it comes to picking a face out of a police lineup, would you guess that you would use some of the same processes a pigeon might use?

If you said "yes," then you're right.

A study published by two University of Iowa researchers in the March 31 issue of the Journal of Vision found that pigeons recognize a human face's identity and emotional expression in much the same way as people do.

Pigeons were shown photographs of human faces that varied in the identity of the face, as well as in their emotional expression -- such as a frown or a smile. In one experiment, pigeons, like humans, were found to perceive the similarity among faces sharing identity and emotion. In a second, key experiment, the pigeons' task was to categorize the photographs according to only one of these dimensions and to ignore the other. The pigeons found it easier to ignore emotion when they recognized face identity than to ignore identity when they recognized face emotion, according to Ed Wasserman, Stuit Professor of Experimental Psychology, and graduate student Fabian Soto, both of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology.

"This asymmetry has been found many times in experiments with people and it has always been interpreted as the result of the unique organization of the human face processing system." Soto said. "We have provided the first evidence suggesting that this effect can arise from perceptual processes present in other vertebrates.

"The point of the project is not that pigeons perceive faces just as we do or that people do not have specialized processes for face perception. Rather, the point is that both specialized and general processes are likely to be involved in peoples' recognition of faces and that the contributions of each should be carefully determined empirically," he added.

In fact, the findings could make scientists reconsider their assumptions about how uniquely human cognitive processes might interact with more general processes in complex tasks such as face recognition.

"It is a popular practice among researchers in perception and cognition to speculate about specialized mechanisms without offering convincing empirical data to support their ideas. We hope that our research will prompt other researchers to conduct more comparative work to assess their claims about the evolution of uniquely human perceptual and cognitive processes," Wasserman said.

The researchers studied pigeons in this project because they have excellent vision and are not close evolutionary relatives of humans. Pigeons do not have a specialized system for face processing, but they still show similarities to people when they are trained to recognize human faces. The simplest interpretation of these similarities is that they result from general recognition processes shared by both species.

The experiments were conducted in Wasserman's laboratory in 2009 and 2010.

The research was funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Eye Institute.

See http://www.journalofvision.org/content/11/3/24.full to read the entire paper.

Wasserman earned his doctorate in psychology from Indiana University and has been with the UI since 1972. His research interests include the comparative analysis of learning, memory, and cognition, with special interests in conceptualization, causation, and visual perception. He has taught several graduate and undergraduate courses in experimental psychology and behavioral and cognitive neuroscience.

Soto is a graduate student in the Cognition and Perception area of the Department of Psychology at the UI. He studies visual categorization and object recognition in people and animals. He was recently awarded a Grant-in-Aid of Research from the National Academy of Sciences, administered by Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, to study the general principles of visual object recognition.

Jennifer Brown | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uiowa.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Study relating to materials testing Detecting damages in non-magnetic steel through magnetism
23.07.2018 | Technische Universität Kaiserslautern

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

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: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>