How do we perceive faces?
Is face processing unique? How is it different from the recognition of other objects object? What aspects in the face are critical for recognition? What are the brain mechanism underlying normal face perception and what happens when these mechanisms are impaired?
Face perception is a highly developed human perceptual skill, and considered as one of the most demanding perceptual challenges to the visual system. The complexity of this process relates to the need to process not only the facial features (e.g. eyes, nose and mouth) but also the configural relations between them. The human face conveys a large amount of invariant information such as gender and identity, as well as subtle, changeable information such as age, expressions, intentions and mood. As such, face perception constitutes a key mechanism for social communication and expression.
The advent of non-invasive imaging techniques, particularly fMRI, has provided important evidence supporting the notion that faces are distinctive visual stimuli. It also enabled researchers to investigate the underlying neural mechanisms supporting face processing in healthy human participants. Such studies revealed that there are specific brain regions that show the strong preferential response to faces in comparison with other stimuli. One such region is the FFA- Fusiform Face Area, which is located on the ventral surface of the temporal lobe and is considered to play a central role in face processing.
Brain areas that activated during face perception