Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Recognizing Faces

Recognizing faces is one of the most difficult visual tasks humans perform, because faces are so similar in composition. Scientists have discovered some interesting things about how the brain recognizes faces. For example, the brain appears to have a specialized mental module dedicated to face processing. The fusiform gyrus in the temporal lobe appears to be involved and at least partly responsible for one’s ability to recognize faces. (Prosopagnosia is the term for damage to the temporal lobe that results in an inability to recognize and identify familiar faces, even one’s own face.) All faces have the same basic features and typically consist of: two eyes, one nose, one mouth, a forehead, cheeks, chin, and eyebrows, etc., but each person has some of its own distinguishing features. Naturally, the more similar two faces are (e.g., identical twins or mirror twins) the more difficult it is to tell the difference between the two. How many faces can your brain recognize? 10,000 or so on average. More tomorrow. 

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