As highly social animals, humans need to be able to quickly and easily identify each other by sight. But how exactly does this remarkable process work in the brain? This article, published in The Smithsonian Magazine (June 6, 2017) gives an answer to this question.*
Our brain is a high precision tool, using neurons, that are specifically responsible to determine a humans face by its single features.
Le Chang, a neuro-scientist at the California Institute of Technlogy, took a closer look to the so called "face patches", areas in the brain’s temporal lobe, that appeard to be highly active when monkeys were looking at faces of humans.
People always say a picture is worth a thousand words, But I like to say that a picture of a face is worth about 200 neurons.
The secret unveiled
In order to decode the system how the brain recognizes other´s faces, Chan generated 2000 artificial faces by using a standard set of facial landmarks and morphing technologies. Each photo showed human faces with parameterized facial features.
Then, he implanted electrodes into two rhesus monkeys to record how the neurons in their brain’s face patches fired when they were shown the artificial faces.
It turned out that each neuron in the face patches responded in certain proportions to only one feature or “dimension” of what makes faces different. This means that, as far as your neurons are concerned, a face is a sum of separate parts, as opposed to a single structure.
Understanding this pattern of neural firing allowed Chang to create an algorithm by which he could actually reverse engineer the patterns of just 205 neurons firing as the monkey looked at a face to create what faces the monkey was seeing without even knowing what face the monkey was seeing.
Hi! My name is Niklas, and i have joined this company in summer 2017 as an intern. Up to today i am continiously improving my skills in using the "Schneemann System" by annotating millions of pictures of human faces. If i am not annotating, i am probably writing some new articles here...All author posts