Posts Tagged ‘Face Recognition’

Sisterhood in the face of it all!

November 24th, 2015 5 comments
female faces

female faces

What is your thought process when you see someone’s face for the first time? This is a tough question, and quite honestly I could not think of anything specific myself. Upon perceiving a face, it only takes us a few seconds to cognitively process it and gather all the necessary information about it. For something so seemingly easy and quick, one would not expect any difference between how different people perceive and process faces, right? Wrong. What if I told you that women processed males and female faces differently? If you are a woman like myself, you are probably puzzled, as you probably never had a difficult time recalling and identifying faces of your peers regardless of their gender. Evidence suggests that women are better at remembering female faces than they are at remembering male faces. In the paper titled “Women Own-gender Bias in Face Recognition Memory: the role of attention at encoding,” researchers investigated the role attention played in women’s ability to better remember faces of fellow females than faces of males. Read more…

Do your political mental representations differ from mine? If you’re a Republican, they probably do.

November 24th, 2015 4 comments


Have you ever wondered if people picture others differently in their minds? Is the picture of Barack Obama in your mind different from that in your brother’s mind? Research suggests that depending on the attitudes you have, it might be. A recent study has proposed that political opinions can change the mental pictures we have of politicians.

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In cognitive psychology, the concept of pattern recognition is commonly understood as assigning meaning to some incoming stimulus. One example of pattern recognition is face recognition. There are two main systems used for face recognition: analytic and holistic. The holistic approach assigns meaning by using top-down processes. These processes are those that are generated from knowledge or experience that we have about the stimulus. Bottom-up processes, which use the features of a stimulus to ascribe meaning, are prevalent in the analytic approach to face recognition. However, it is the top-down approaches that can help explain why Young, Ratner, and Fazio (2014) found that mental representations of Mitt Romney depend on political affiliations.

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Is it just me or is that athlete really aggressive looking?: The importance of context in the memory of faces

November 24th, 2015 2 comments

Remember back in high school, the last basketball game of the season against your biggest rival? You were guarding the best player on the other team, let’s call her Chelsey. The teams were going back and forth in points. As the seconds ticked off the clock the game picked up in intensity. There was a lot of pushing and shoving that was going unnoticed by the refs. You personally were being elbowed and pushed out of the box by Chelsey. The look on her face was pure determination and aggression; a desire to win the competition. Unfortunately, your team lost, and it was a long bus ride home. During it, all you and your teammates could talk about were the other players and how aggressive they looked.

Later, you see Chelsey again at the All-star game. This time, the two of you are on the same team. You play alongside Chelsey for the entire game, feeding her passes and rebounding her misses, working as a real team. After the game, you hear someone from the other team talking about how aggressive looking Chelsey was. This makes you think back to how you remembered Chelsey’s face as aggressive as well. But thinking back to the playing in the All-star game you don’t remember Chelsey as having an aggressive face.

Why did the way you remember Chelsey’s face change? The answer is context. Read more…

Categories: Memory Tags: ,

Keep Calm and Encode this Face… Then Panic and Freak Out while Retrieving It!

November 23rd, 2015 2 comments


Imagine that you are sitting in a coffee shop, peacefully eating your cannoli and sipping your latte. As you look out the window, you notice someone approach
a parked car, smash the window, and steal something out of the front seat of the car. Your calm afternoon quickly becomes anxiety-ridden: your leg bounces, your voice shakes, your heart pounds, your stomach churns, and your mind races. You catch a glimpse of the criminal’s face as they are running off, and you promptly call 911. But did you know that the anxiety that you experienced when witnessing the crime could impact your ability to remember the criminal’s face later? We tend to recognize faces pretty easily, especially when someone is familiar to us, so you’re probably thinking that you would also be able to recognize the criminal’s face without a problem. After all, you did just watch them commit a crime right in front of your eyes. PAFF_090513_anxietyperception_newsfeature Your anxiety about the situation may have impaired your ability to recognize that person’s face, though, and a recent study conducted by Curtis, Russ, and Ackland (2015) sought to determine why and how this happens. Their research wanted to see how a spike in anxiety impacts someone’s ability to remember a face. More specifically, they wanted to know when the time of onset of anxiety is most impactful (before or after seeing a face) and whether or not anxiety increases stereotypes, or assumptions about the thoughts, actions, and behaviors another group of people, when someone is recognizing a face that is a different ethnicity than their own.

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Can I Touch Your Face?

November 23rd, 2014 3 comments

Stepbrothers: click the image

Imagine feeling around in your kitchen’s miscellaneous junk drawer in the dark—among rubber bands, lighters, pencil sharpeners, and notepads—for a ballpoint pen. Not a pencil, and certainly not a highlighter. But that specific shape of pen. You know what a pen feels like, having felt them and seen them many times before, so the dark gives you no issue and you pull out exactly what you are looking for.

Our bodies have many ways of interacting with surroundings and objects. All senses powerfully work together to interpret what an object is based on its size, weight, texture, color, even smell. Sometimes these senses are isolated, so we rely on solely on sight or exclusively on touch, seemingly very different methods we employ. Having great visual interpretation, as if you have a keen eye for painting styles, seems to not necessarily make you better at identifying a sculptor’s work by touching and feeling the art. (Make sure to wait until the docent has their back turned!) But much like training your body to run faster can help you swim better, training one sense could improve another.

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Your Eyes Can Give You Away

May 1st, 2014 7 comments


That face. I know that face. How do I know that face? Do I wave? Do I know them that well? Everyone has had that experience where they recognize someone’s face, and you may know absolutely nothing about the person, but you know you’ve seen their face before.

How can we recognize people’s faces so easily? Facial recognition is a highly specialized process, and is incredibly accurate. Facial features such as the eyes, nose, mouth, the distance between features, and the shapes of features help us to identity a person’s face.  But when we are in a very emotional situation, are we still as good at facial recognition as we are in regular situations? Read more…

Who’s That Chick? How You Identify and Recognize the Hotties Around You

April 30th, 2014 5 comments


It happens to everyone: you’re walking around campus when all of a sudden you see “Hottie Number One” or “Hot Girl Number Three,” or “Hot Dude From Dana.” We are students on a small campus; therefore, we start to recognize people after just a few weeks of being here. But why do we recognize some people more than others? Based upon personal interactions, people from all aspects of the sexuality spectrum seem to say that they run into “Hottie Number One” more often than they do other people. Perhaps even more interesting is that people seem to recognize potentially compatible hotties – straight people tend notice straight hotties whereas gay people tend to notice gay hotties. What makes us recognize the hotties better than we do other people? And how do we manage to focus on potentially compatible hotties? What about the hotties with non-compatible sexual orientations?

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Face the Facts

November 25th, 2013 2 comments

We often forget many things in our lives.  We forget where we left our keys as we’re running out the door in the morning; we forget what we had for breakfast; and sometimes we even forget what day it is.  But one thing it seems we can always rely on is our ability to remember and discriminate between different faces.  Our ability to recognize faces takes place without us even realizing it.  It is something we take for granted because it is a very basic part of being a human being—recognizing the people in our world—our close family and friends who we see often, and even people we only encounter occasionally.

Because we are so good at recognizing faces, scientists have long wondered whether there are specific areas in the brain dedicated solely to facial recognition, or, rather, if there are more generic areas in the brain that recognize all things that we have a lot of experience with, and are in turn “experts” at (one such thing being faces).

But how do you even go about testing something like this?  It may seem easy, but it is actually quite a challenging and intriguing dilemma.  It may seem that all you would need to do would be to compare people’s ability to recognize faces with their ability to recognize other objects, but that would only answer half the question.  A difference in ability doesn’t give any insight into whether there is a specific area or process in the brain specialized to just faces.

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“How Valid Is My First Impression?” – Implicit Facial Trustworthiness Affects Social-Decision Making

November 25th, 2013 No comments

Do you believe in first impressions? Have you ever made a snapshot judgment about someone based on a brief interaction? All of us have experienced meeting someone new. Some studies suggest that after a mere seven seconds, we have already formed a first impression of that person. According to our impression of the person, we act and behave accordingly. Yet, we should ask ourselves, “How valid are our first impressions?”

Have you ever sat on a train and squirmed with discomfort because the guy next to you just seems “creepy?” Can you pinpoint what exactly makes him look creepy? Are his eyes set too close to each other?  Do his eyes look beady? Is his nose crooked? This poor guy is probably just staring out the window like the rest of the people on the train, probably just waiting to get to work. Although you have never met him before, his neutral facial expression somehow conveys a sense of untrustworthiness. Since he looks creepy, you will ignore him and maybe even move away from him. This example exhibits the dominant influence of perceived trustworthiness.

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Let’s Face It: Effects of Social Status in Facial Processing

November 25th, 2013 4 comments

Every day, we constantly recognize and process countless faces; faces of our friends, classmates, strangers, professors, etc. Of the innumerable number of faces we see a day, what dictates what makes some faces more memorable than others? New research suggests that our personal motives, and goals at a given time, have a profound effect on face perception and memory. In the article The Allure of Status: High-Status Targets Are Privileged in Face Processing and Memory, the authors examine the effects of social status on facial recognition and perception.

Evidence suggests that our particular motives influence how we perceive faces: for example, men at a bar are more likely to notice attractive women at first in order to fulfill their goals associated with finding a mate. People also tend to selectively align themselves with who they perceive to be powerful and dominant individuals; this can explain why many women might be drawn more to a guy who is dressed well, or who is driving a nice car, since those are “status” symbols, representing the opportunity of a better life. The goal of the experiment was to see if higher-status faces could be recognized more frequently than lower-status faces, and how social status influences holistic processing (how we view faces as a whole rather than by individual features) and feature integration (how we create a unified representation by combining features).

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