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Face Recognition - Psychology Essay

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The face is considered a special type of stimuli for processing by the brain, which is dependent on the fusiform gyrus region of the brain. The process of face recognition by the brain is considered special in psychology as there are functional variations between recognizing a face and another visual object. ‘The face is a special stimulus for processing by the brain as it is based on a unique recognition and perception process’. This essay aims to evaluate the unique process of perceiving faces and the role of different regions of the brain in determining the ability of a person to recognize and differentiate faces. It also presents evidence-based facts that explain the specialty of faces and their recognition. This essay introduces the evidence that faces are functionally special in favor of the processing by the brain. The importance of this essay can be demonstrated by the fact that it helps in concluding whether faces are special or not in the context of brain processing. It is also broadly discussed in the essay that there is a functional difference in the recognition of faces compared to the recognition and perception of other types of visual stimuli. The essay effectively explains this with the help of evidence based on neurological, neuropsychological and behavioral studies on the perception of faces by the human brain.

Discussion on behavioral, neuropsychological and neuro-imaging study for processing and recognition of faces

The processing of faces by the human brain is an important category of visual processing, and the most important regions are the mouth and eyes. The distinction of face processing from other objects is based on the fact that faces are a combination of component parts that are independently represented as the nose, eyes, mouth and the relationship among them. In the context of behavioural studies on face reception, it is considered that visual cues derived from their face of an individual provides crucial information on the emotional state and identity. According to Pereira, Shaevitz & Murthy (2020), the quantification of behaviour is an effective approach to liking the behaviour with the activity of the brain. Exogenous Oxytocin is an important component that facilitates the process of facial recognition by humans. In a study conducted by Lopatina et al. (2018), it is demonstrated that with the administration of oxytocin by the intranasal route, there is a significant improvement in facial recognition and perception of different types of facial expressions. The stuffy also emphasised that the administration of OT improved the communication and interaction among individuals suffering from deficits in social behaviour. (Lopatina et al., 2018). The behavioural paradigms represent that the processing of faces as a stimulus by the brain functionally differs from the perception of other stimuli.

This can be explained by stating that face recognition and perception are two crucial elements for effective social interaction and representation of critical skills. As opined by Ferretti & Papaleo (2019), recognition of emotions is effectively facilitated by the brain, and this is based on the perceptual processing that is based on the geometric configurations related to varied facial expressions and linking the stimulus’s emotional value with recognition. The sensory cues related to the recognition of faces and the associated emotion are predominantly controlled by the amygdala region. Also, the evaluation and validation of positive emotions, such as surprised or happy emotions, are controlled by the connectivity of subcortical and cortical structures of the amygdala.

The Neuropsychological studies on the perception of faces by the brain are based on the role of different brain regions in face recognition. Regions of the brain involved in recognition of faces are the fusiform gyrus, amygdala and frontal cortex of the brain. As opined by Borghesani et al. (2019), the occipital face area or OFA helps in the recognition process and delivers distinguished abilities such as trustworthiness, judging identity and emotion recognition. Evidence from the study suggests that lesions in the area of the brain impact the performance of perception of different faces. The OFA region of the brain allows the person to judge emotions and the sex of another person. CP or congenial prosopagnosia is another area associated with object and face recognition. This is supported by another finding in a study that suggests that methods of cognitive neuropsychology are beneficial in treating developmental disorders (Starrfelt & Robotham, 2018). One of the important aspects related to prosopagnosia is based on the mapping of lesion networks in the brain. According to Cohen et al. (2019), the right part of the fusiform face area is a specialized region for recognition and damage in this region results in facial recognition impairment called prosopagnosia. There are some other neurological syndromes that play a role in selectively disrupting the ability of an individual to recognize faces. As stated by Samaey et al. (2020), the neural findings related to face perception by autism psychosis are based on the lowered volume of grey matter and reduced thickness of the cortex area. This significantly impairs the ability to process a wide range of facial expressions. The process of visual perception in individuals suffering from autism. The neuroimaging studies suggest that the talk of visual detection by these patients is slow as demonstrated by the functional MRI results. Early recognition is facilitated by the occipitotemporal region, and this region is found to be more activated in autistic individuals. This also leads to social impairment resulting from the negative effects on facial expression, eye gaze and joint attention (Chung & Son, 2020). Hence, it can be stated that the fusiform gyrus region of the brain is actively engaged in the process of recognizing different features of the face in a distinguished manner. The imaging studies on the brain reveal that the temporal lobe of the brain is active when individuals look at different faces.

MRI is a part of neuroimaging research that focuses on neuroscience approaches athat are applicable in both the fields of education as well as research. This branch of neuroscience is for the imaging of the grain such that the health of the brain can be assessed and the probability of diseases can be diagnosed. This is also used to identify the various impacts of these diseases on the brain including the changes in cognitive patterns and structural changes. In recent days, these techniques hep in revealing both the form and the function of the human brain and this makes it an apllicable technique in diagnostics.

Neuroimaging studies are based on the functional specificity of brain areas for the processing of human faces. This is based on the specific areas of the brain that are responsible for the specific functions of recognition. For instance, the FFA region is more active in face recognition than object recognition. Studies based on ‘Functional type of magnetic resonance imaging (functional MRI) for face processing is helpful in the detection of prosopagnosia condition and is related to a deficit in the functional activation of the fusiform gyrus region of the brain. Studies based on neuroimaging technique of ‘Positron emission Topography’ is based on the findings of the study conducted by Zaharchuk (2019). It is suggested that with the help of the brain images generated from the PET images help in the re-identification of individuals through face recognition. Neuroimaging studes are developed in different countries with identification approach in application without invasive approach implication. The non invasive technique of face recognition is being implied to developed the outcomes. Face recognition is important to accomplish the significant identification of individuals in modern times. The developed technological interferences and technological advancement acquired major acceptance during this era of development. The face recognition procedure is implied in different sectors and industries for the greater usage of this process. The MRI process involved with face recognition has become popular in usage. The mechanism of face recognition smoothly running process in several dimensions. Several parts of face have been incorporated within this recognition aspect. Thus, the preferable aspect of this face recognition process seems to be effective for separating different faces according to their primary elements. The non-invasive technique of developing face recognition is being identified as the key tool to promote identification. According to Kovács (2020), in the case of autistic individuals, the processing of faces and the neural mechanism behind them helps in determining the familiarity of a person. It is suggested that familiarization is associated with contextual and biographical information related to the visual recognition steps. Hence, it can be stated that faces are special when it comes to the recognition and perception processes of the brain.


The functional characteristics of the face and the neural machinery involved in the mediation by neurons are different from those involved in object recognition. The face is special as there are specialized sets of neurons present in specific regions of the brain. The right side of the brain, the fusiform gyrus and the amygdala are the main regions involved in facial expressions processing. Various studies based on behavioural, neurological and neuroimaging are discussed to demonstrate that facial perception is special. It is also discussed that the presence of neurological syndromes in an individual, such as autism, results in disrupting the specialized ability of the brain to detect and differentiate between different faces. This has a major consequence on the social interaction of these individuals. t can be concluded that the process of face perception is functionally separate from the recognition of other types of visual stimuli, and face recognition can be considered special.

Reference list

Borghesani, V., Narvid, J., Battistella, G., Shwe, W., Watson, C., Binney, R. J., ... & Gorno-Tempini, M. L. (2019). “Looks familiar, but I do not know who she is”: The role of the anterior right temporal lobe in famous face recognition. Cortex, 115, 72-85.doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2019.01.006

Chung, S., & Son, J. W. (2020). Visual perception in autism spectrum disorder: A review of neuroimaging studies. Journal of the Korean Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 31(3), 105. doi: 10.5765/jkacap.200018

Cohen, A. L., Soussand, L., Corrow, S. L., Martinaud, O., Barton, J. J., & Fox, M. D. (2019). Looking beyond the face area: lesion network mapping of prosopagnosia. Brain, 142(12), 3975-3990.

Ferretti, V., & Papaleo, F. (2019). Understanding others: Emotion recognition in humans and other animals. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 18(1), e12544.DOI: 10.1111/gbb.12544

Kovács, G. (2020). Getting to know someone: Familiarity, person recognition, and identification in the human brain. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 32(12), 2205-2225.

Lopatina, O. L., Komleva, Y. K., Gorina, Y. V., Higashida, H., & Salmina, A. B. (2018). Neurobiological aspects of face recognition: The role of oxytocin. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 12, 195.

Pereira, T. D., Shaevitz, J. W., & Murthy, M. (2020). Quantifying behavior to understand the brain. Nature neuroscience, 23(12), 1537-1549.

Samaey, C., Van der Donck, S., Van Winkel, R., & Boets, B. (2020). Facial Expression Processing Across the Autism–Psychosis Spectra: A Review of Neural Findings and Associations With Adverse Childhood Events. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 592937.

Starrfelt, R., & Robotham, R. J. (2018). On the use of cognitive neuropsychological methods in developmental disorders. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 35(1-2), 94-97. , DOI: 10.1080/02643294.2017.1423048

Zaharchuk, G. (2019). Next generation research applications for hybrid PET/MR and PET/CT imaging using deep learning. European journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging, 46(13), 2700-2707.doi: 10.1007/s00259-019-04374-9

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