Face Recognition

Brandon S. Dickerson


1. Introduction

Research has shown that there are specialized neurons in ourbrains that respond specifically to faces allowing us to betterdistinguish between them.

Just think how hard it would be to communicate with friends andfamily if you had trouble picking them out of a group of people.

Have you ever been scanning through a crowd of people and yourfriend's face kind of just popped out from the rest of the crowdallowing you to instantly recognize them?

This is because your brain is trained to distinguish faces apartas a whole even though the individual parts; eyes, nose, mouth, etc.,may be similar in shape and pigment.

2. Research

Most of the research has been done on animals, particularlymonkeys, since human research can be invasive, or damaging.

Recent research however has been done on humans using the fMRI,which is a machine that monitors brain activity by measuring amagnetic property of blood called ferrous molecules as it travelsthrough parts of the brain.

This research has helped prove that humans also have a section ofthe brain that responds best to faces.

However a disease called prosopagnosia plagues some humans. Peoplewith this type of brain damage have problems recognizing the faces offriends, family, and even their own reflection in extreme cases.

These people have to use other cues such as sound of voice torecognize their loved ones.

Can you imagine the many ways prosopagnosia would affect andimpair your every day life?



3. Brain Teaser

If you are still not convinced of the power that face recognitionhas on the human mind then simply observe Bev Doolittle's portraitbelow, The Forest Has Eyes. At first glance this scene appears tocontain mainly trees, rocks, and water. But on closer inspection youcan see some faces in the trees, rocks, and background. See if youcan find all twelve hidden faces.