How the Brain recognizes faces

An article published in Annual Review of Neuroscience Journal recognizes the brain as the central body organ for face recognition. The authors suggest unifying hypothesis from computational, fMRI, neurological, and single-unit studies, to explain how the brain recognizes faces (Tsao & Livingstone, 2008). After an analysis of the different experiments, the evidence strongly shows that the brain processes faces through a dedicated mechanism. Faces are recognized within locations in the temporal brain lobe. Once an individual sees a face, the face information is sent to an obligatory detection phase in the temporal lobe of the brain (Tsao & Livingstone, 2008). The obligatory stage is then accompanied by a holistic process of recognizing the face. After the face processing, the individual can tell the face’s mood, age, identity, race, and direction of attention, traits that are important in human psychology.

A different article by Norton in the Science Daily News (2012) confirms that the task to recognize a face is solely devoted to a single brain tissue, the Fusiform gyrus. The tissue is activated when an individual sees a face. However, Norton (2012) emphasizes the neurons in the brain tissues and not the tissue itself does help in facial recognition. The discovery is by scientists Blackwell and Parvizi who uses electrodes to represent the neurons. When electrodes were sent to Parvizi’s Fusiform gyrus, he confirmed his counterpart looked different. The scientists conclude that neurons do help the brain in facial recognition as well as sending the information to other parts of the body. According to Norton (2012), previous studies only showed the fusiform gyrus was involved in facial recognition, but they never clarified how the information is broadcasted to complete the face identification process.

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In conclusion, the brain has a sole tissue, the fusiform gyrus, found in the temporal brain lobe specifically devoted to face recognition. The process begins with a person coding a face. The facial information is sent to the brain tissue, fusiform gyrus for encoding which Tsao and Livingstone (2008) refer as the obligatory stage. A holistic process in the brain help in facial interpretation and the information is broadcasted, which according to Norton (2012) is done by neurons. After the processing, an individual can tell the face’s mood, race, identity, attitude, emotions, and age, features that are important in human psychology.



Norton, E., (2012). Identifying the Brain’s Own Facial Recognition System. Science Daily News. Retrieved from:

Tsao, D. Y., & Livingstone, M. S. (2008). Mechanisms of face perception. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 31, 411–437.

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