Face Recognition: Faces (Part 2 of 4)

The same point can be made informally. Another figure shows two upside- down photographs of former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher (from Thompson, 1980). You can probably detect that something is odd about these. but now try turning the book upside down, so that the faces are right-side up. As you can see. the difference between these faces is immense, and yet this rather fiendish contrast is largely lost when the faces are upside down. Once again, it seems that the perception of faces is strikingly different when we view the faces upside down. (Also see Rhodes, Brake & Atkinson, 1993.)

All of this seems to imply that face recognition is different from recognition  of other sorts-served by its own neural “apparatus” and particularly dependent on orientation. But is it just faces that show these patterns? Consider   first the evidence of prosopagnosia. Our understanding of this syndrome has grown as a greater number of cases have been examined. For example there is a well-documented report of a prosopagnosic farmer who not only lost the ability to recognize faces, he also lost the ability to recognize his individual cows. Likewise, there is a case of a prosopagnosic bird-watcher who has, it seems, lost both the ability to discriminate faces and also the ability to discriminate warblers (Bernstein, 1963; Bornstein, Sroka & Munitz, 1969). Still another patient has lost the ability to tell cars apart, and is only able to locate her car in a parking lot by reading all the license plates until she finds her own (Damasio et al., 1982).

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