Are Faces Special?
In 1989 Ellis and Young examined the question “Are faces special?” They concluded that the process of spatial recognition is special but not unique, this will be further examined.
Why Faces Are Special?
Three main reasons have been put forward to support the assumption that faces are special. These are
1. Face recognition has a different form of analysis to object recognition
2. Brain-imaging studies show the fusiform gyrus to be apparently specialized for face processing
3. Research on brain damaged patients.
Face Recognition Has a Different Form of Analysis to Object Recognition
Farah (1990,1994) put forward a two-process model of object recognition in which two processes of forms of analysis were distinguished
a) Holistic analysis – in which the configuration or over structure of an object is processed
b) Analysis by part – in which processing features on the constituents parts of an object (featural processing)
Farah argued that holistic analysis and featural processing are involved in the recognition of most objects. However face processing depends mainly on holistic processing. Farah et al (1998) proposed explicit representations of parts of the face (e.g mouth & nose) are of minor importance.
Evidence for Holistic/ Configural Processing
The Thatcher illusion ( Bartlett & Searcy 1993) seems to support the holistic processing of faces in the famous experiment whereby a person cannot see the grotesque modifications of Mrs. Thatcher's face when the picture is inverted, while when the picture is upright the modifications are apparent.
Other experiments seem to support the holistic processing of faces over that of featural processing. Leder and Carbon (2004) showed in two experiments, the holistic face effect was investigated by using a learning paradigm with faces which differed in terms of either featural or configural properties. When full faces had been learned, the expected finding of advantageous recognition...