Facial Viewpoint Representation in the Human Brain

This seminar will be delivered by Dr Tessa Flack from the University of Lincoln.

The face conveys a variety of information to the observer, allowing you to determine key basic information such as an individual’s gender and age, but also allows you to make finer interpretations such as how the person is feeling and what they are attending to. Although the study of facial expression has dominated the literature on the changeable aspects of faces, rigid movements of the head and eyes are equally interesting and have important implications both for survival and communication. In addition, facial viewpoint information allows us to assess what a person is looking at or attending to, and also plays a significant role in face recognition. When we know someone well, we are able to identify them from most viewpoints and often in poor lighting conditions. However, this is not the case when we don’t know someone well. A critical aspect of the process of learning a new identity, is the integration of different images from the same face into a view-invariant representation that can be used for recognition. The representation of symmetrical viewpoints has been proposed to be a key computational step in achieving view-invariance. In this talk, I will discuss the neural representation of facial viewpoint, and the special representation given to symmetrical viewpoint directions. I will present data that shows the representation of symmetrical viewpoints in face-selective regions of the brain, is directly linked to the perception and recognition of face identity. This data provides support for the functional value of symmetry as an intermediate step in generating view-invariant representations.

This seminar will be held in Room 1.33-1.34 in the School of Psychology.