Study Looks at How We 'identify' Faces

TEL AVIV, Israel, July 28 (UPI) — Israeli scientists say they are making discoveries about a particular area of the brain responsible for recognizing faces and interpreting facial expressions.

In a “Face Lab” at Tel Aviv University, researchers are trying to understand the mechanisms at work in an area of the brain called the “fusiform gyrus,” a university release said Wednesday.

We are better able to recognize faces when we regularly see and interact with them in meaningful settings, the study found, and additions to a face, such as a beard or glasses, are incorporated into the face recognition activity of the brain, while visual elements that are irrelevant to facial recognition, such as a chair a person is sitting on or the clothes they’re wearing, are ignored.

The study could have practical uses, study leader Dr. Galit Yovel says, from helping business executives better match names with faces to more important applications like developing better facial recognition software to identify terrorists or criminals.

“Faces are important,” Yovel says. “In principle, faces are very similar to one another. That’s probably why we’ve evolved these complex and specialized face areas in the brain — so that we can more accurately discriminate among the countless faces we encounter throughout our lives.”

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