How Exactly Do Our Brains Recognize Faces?

The human brain has an incredible capacity to recognize and remember faces. But how exactly does facial recognition work?

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Precisely Targeted Electrical Brain Stimulation Alters Perception of Faces, Scientists Find (Stanford)
"In a painless clinical procedure performed on a patient with electrodes temporarily implanted in his brain, Stanford University doctors pinpointed two nerve clusters that are critical for face perception. The findings could have practical value in treating people with prosopagnosia - the inability to distinguish one face from another - as well in gaining an understanding of why some of us are so much better than others at recognizing and remembering faces."

The Perception of a Face Is No More Than the Sum of Its Parts (NCBI)
"When you see a person's face, how do you go about combining his or her facial features to make a decision about who that person is? Most current theories of face perception assert that the ability to recognize a human face is not simply the result of an independent analysis of individual features, but instead involves a holistic coding of the relationships among features."

Electrical Stimulation of Human Fusiform Face-Selective Regions Distorts Face Perception (Journal of Neuroscience)
"Face-selective neural responses in the human fusiform gyrus have been widely examined. However, their causal role in human face perception is largely unknown. Here, we used a multimodal approach of electrocorticography (ECoG), high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and electrical brain stimulation (EBS) to directly investigate the causal role of face-selective neural responses of the fusiform gyrus (FG) in face perception in a patient implanted with subdural electrodes in the right inferior temporal lobe."

Understanding Face Recognition (NCBI)
"The aim of this paper is to develop a theoretical model and a set of terms for understanding and discussing how we recognize familiar faces, and the relationship between recognition and other aspects of face processing. It is suggested that there are seven distinct types of information that we derive from seen faces; these are labelled pictorial, structural, visually derived semantic, identity-specific semantic, name, expression and facial speech codes. A functional model is proposed in which structural encoding processes provide descriptions suitable for the analysis of facial speech, for analysis of expression and for face recognition units."