In the past thirty years, face perception has become an area of major interest within psychology. The Oxford Handbook of Face Perception is the most comprehensive and commanding review of the field ever published.For anyone looking for the definitive review of this burgeoning field, this is the essential book.
Facial appearance changes with age and health affecting skin color as well as facial and head hair. Yet somehow the brain is able to see past shared structure and dynamic deformations to focus on subtle details that distinguish one face from another. This article argues that the brain takes an efficient approach to this problem using prior knowledge about the structure of faces in its analysis. It employs intrinsic norms to focus on subtle variations in the shared face configuration that (...) differentiate one face from another. The study reviews evidence that the brain uses multiple norms to extract face identity that these norms are shaped by visual experience, and that norm-based coding is well-suited to meeting the challenges of image-based face perception mentioned above. By encoding faces with reference to stored perceptual norms the visual system can focus on what is unique to each individual, allowing for the discrimination of thousands of faces despite their similarity. (shrink)
Fitting the Mind to the World explores the brain's remarkable capacity to adapt to its current visual environment. Leading vision researchers explore how visual experience alters the adult brain, fitting the mind to the world, and ensuring the efficient coding of sensory signals. They demonstrate how this plasticity affects every aspect of our visual experience, from the perception of movement and colour, to the perception of subtle, social and emotional information in human faces.
How can the impenetrability hypothesis be empirically tested? We comment on the role of signal detection measures, suggesting that context effects on discriminations for which post-perceptual cues are irrelevant, or on neural activity associated with early vision, would challenge impenetrability. We also note the great computational power of the proposed pre-perceptual attention processes and consider the implications for testability of the theory.