How face perception unfolds over time

TitleHow face perception unfolds over time
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsDobs, K, Isik, L, Pantazis, D, Kanwisher, N
JournalNature Communications
Date Published01/2019

Within a fraction of a second of viewing a face, we have already determined its gender, age and identity. A full understanding of this remarkable feat will require a characterization of the computational steps it entails, along with the representations extracted at each. Here, we used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to measure the time course of neural responses to faces, thereby addressing two fundamental questions about how face processing unfolds over time. First, using representational similarity analysis, we found that facial gender and age information emerged before identity information, suggesting a coarse-to-fine processing of face dimensions. Second, identity and gender representations of familiar faces were enhanced very early on, suggesting that the behavioral benefit for familiar faces results from tuning of early feed-forward processing mechanisms. These findings start to reveal the time course of face processing in humans, and provide powerful new constraints on computational theories of face perception.

Short TitleNat Commun

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