Face perception

Cognitive Daily

Category archives for Face perception

Last year’s movie Changeling tells the story, from the late 1920s, of a mother whose son is kidnapped. Then, six months later, the police say they’ve found the boy and return him to his mother, who immediately claims that the boy they returned was not her son. She’s then coerced into taking this child in,…

How many of these faces can you recognize? Even though these are extremely famous individuals, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to identify all four of them, because the pictures were taken early in life, before they became famous. But give it your best shot and try to name them in the comments. I’ll reveal…

[Originally posted in November, 2007] Do people ever tell you to “just smile, you’ll feel better”? If you’re like our daughter Nora, you hear it a lot, and you get annoyed every time you hear it. Telling a teenager to smile is probably one of the best ways to ensure she won’t smile for the…

Take a look at these two pictures of the Mona Lisa: They’re derived from a series of images of the famous painting that had been obscured by random noise filters (like when your old analog TV wasn’t getting a signal), like this: Each picture appears to have a slightly different facial expression — some happier,…

Attentional blink is a fascinating phenomenon that occurs when we see images, words, or numbers presented in a rapid sequence. As images flash by at about one every tenth of a second, you’re asked to look for two in particular. If you were looking for numbers in a sequence of letters, the sequence might be…

What’s your first reaction on seeing this picture of Nora? Are you excited because she appears to be excited? Or do you react to her intent? Perhaps you think she’s cute, or maybe even sarcastic. Ultimately you might have all of those reactions. There’s no doubt we’re exceptionally fast at responding to faces, and to…

What is a visual expert?

Last week, we presented research by Miranda Scolari’s team about visual expertise and visual short-term memory. Their conclusion: “experts” don’t have a larger visual memory capacity than non-experts, they just have the ability to process more details. Scolari’s team was working under the assumption that all humans (or at least all the students in their…

Take a look at this quick video. You’ll see a set of six small images, arranged in a circle, for 1 second. Then the screen will go blank for 1 second. Finally, one image will reappear in the place of one of the first six pictures. Your job: indicate whether the final image is the…

What are we looking at when we recognize faces? The shapes of of the individual components of the face — eyes, nose, mouth? Or are we recognizing the larger patterns of how those parts relate to one another — the distance between the eyes, the position of the mouth relative to the nose? We’re actually…

Can you tell if these two faces are the same or different? How about these? Or these? If you’re like most adults, it will be easier for you to identify different adult faces compared to the infant faces in the second example, and even the small children’s faces in the third example. This makes some…