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On the other hand there is some evidence too that expertise plays a role too - as facial recognition for species other than humans is demonstrated by professionals working with those areas ( dog breeders, judges, sheep farmers etc). In this paper we would examine the evidence for against the issue of whether facial recognition is a distinct psychological phenomenon.
Initial studies on facial recognition did not recognize that facial perception was a separate cognitive process. In one of the early reviews form the University of Aberdeen ( Ellis, 1975) it was concluded that facial perception was in no way different from that of any other complex geometrical object. They were however recognized as a distinct category in view of their unique social importance, the association of facial patterns with emotional states and the fact that faces were important in non-verbal communication.
Gilbert and Bakan (1973) were among many others who started experiments with chimeric faces, where one half of a face was combined with its own mirror image to produce a composite image. It was soon apparent form their work and that of many others that our brains have an inherent bias to attribute the half of the face in our left visual field ( the right half of faces) in their perceptual judgment of the owner's identity, personal characteristics and other psychological attributes. In Gilbert and Balkan's study, participants chose left-left composite images as more representative of likeness, than even true right-left real images. This was a major shift to the realisation that facial recognition is a distinct cognitive process.

The most popular current model for facial processing is that of Bruce and Young (1986) who proposed three stages in facial processing: firstly the structural encoding stage, the second stage of face recognition, and thirdly, the familiarity-decision stage. In the first stage, as the visual data of someone's face enters the striate visual cortex in our brains they are then processed as a recognizable 'face'. Thereafter, some of the basic features of the facial image like orientation, positional features and color, are re-created to form the 'mental' image of a face. In the second stage, the brain ties to identify unique and distinguishable features of the face, which makes it possible to identify it as 'belonging' to an individual, and selects features of a facial pattern which will make it possible to identify the 'broad distinguishing features'. In the third stage, the now familiar face is processed with all the specific details of episodes, semantic memory and emotional attributes that are necessary to definitely identify the person to whom the face belongs. The only other competing model is the interactive activation and network competition model (Burton, Bruce, & Johnston, 1990), which only describes an alternate sequence of events in facial recognition, but does not provide a comprehensive framework of how such information ties up together in a pattern of recognition.

The Margaret Thatcher illusion is an important part of this process described by the British psychologist Peter Thompson on a photograph of Margaret Thatcher shortly after she became the Prime Minister of Britain. In this effect, the appearance of an inverted image of her ...Show more


Face perception and recognition has been the subject of a lot of recent psychological research. Central to the problem is the question : are faces recognized by us humans any differently than other objects There is recent scientific evidence that facial recognition occurs at a subconscious level, without the subject being aware of it…
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Neuropsychology essay example
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