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The Importance of Face Perception

Title: Compare and contrast the domain specific and expertise perspectives on face perception.

Face perception can be defined as a skill to read other individual’s emotions via their facial expressions (Bruce & Young, 2012). The human face that is competent of expressing wide spectrum of information to others is done through a combination of immense number of nerve and muscle movements. However, while growing up kids learn to utilize the facial expressions of their parents, teachers as well as other adults as a medium to assess approval or safety. As people grow older, they learn about expressions like annoyance, headaches, irritation and so on. Presently it is also medically confirmed that few facial expressions can also be an indication of physical problems, which are, identified by trained practitioners. Therefore, facial perception is the basic to human social interaction. Among the scientists’ faces has always been a source of interest in a broad range of disciplines. Faces are mainly the first type of visual information that is available to the perceiver throughout the interaction (Rhodes & Anastasi, 2012). Therefore, in social interaction the understanding mainly comes from what the human faces convey. The necessity of faces throughout the human life has been highlighted in many empirical researches. Therefore, the aim of this essay is to compare as well as distinct the domain specific and expertise views on face perception.

Domain specific idea of face perception 

Faces are among those informative stimuli that people ever perceive. Even a fraction of a second glimpse to an individual’s face will tell about their identity, sex, mood, age, race as well as direction of attention. Faces are the assumed as the most important pattern of stimuli that an infant is presented from the very beginning of their life (Rochat, 2014). Therefore, face recognition in the infancy is mainly explored by two means of experimental paradigms, which are habituation paradigm and preferential looking paradigm. Face is  considered to be rich in stimulus in relation to brightness, contrast, complexity and contour density. Therefore, it can move as a whole or can be  perceived in parts like one can perceive the other person’s eyes, mouth or tongue and can interpret the person’s emotions. However, as far as development is concerned it has been observed that face perception is defined as progressing from gradual to a configurational mode of illustration during the childhood and in adolescent in the task of face recognition. Face perception is also considered a skill, which is considered the fundamental towards a successful social interaction. Face perception is also primary to individual’s reliance on photographs to reveal the identity in driver’s licenses as well as passports. Moreover, it has been found that the ability to recognize from faces is mainly important in few occasions which has been researched in current years has observed that individuals vary greatly in their capability to perceive faces. Therefore, this variation acts as challenge as well as opportunity to the law enforcements, courts, national and homeland security. According to the experts from numerous studies they have revealed that face perception is ‘multi-faceted’ which means that through it people not only recognizes individuals but also observe their faces to obtain a continual stream of social information which has been varying from communicative gestures to emotional as well as attentive states (Baltazar, Shutts & Kinzler, 2012). There are various aspects of face perception, which can be briefly described as under-

  • Identity- the perception of individual faces is in some ways the height of human visual performance. However, as all human faces have the same primary configural appearances therefore, people must be identified by fine deviations from that of the prototypic pattern. Human face perception is hugely efficient, including a similar integration of information over the complete face.
  • Emotional expression- Individuals communicate their emotional conditions to other via the stereotypical posturing of the facial component. Enhanced facial musculature bestow to a large repertoire of expressions including the revelation of the teeth, the furrowing of the brow as well as closure of the eyes among which few are unusually human and some are not. However, the aspect of an emotional expression can straight away influence the observer’s own state of emotions (Bettadapura, 2012).  
  • Gaze- The appearance of the eyes also supplies insight into a person’s observant state, involving their degree of engagement, intentions or can be focus of interest. However, this feature of face perception may be especially well developed among individuals, as the sclera in the human eye is more visible than those in other primates. Thus, human infants are found using their orientation of the eyes than their heads to ascertain another’s direction of gaze. The interplay of Gaze is an important feature of social interaction and is not normal in a number of psychiatric conditions where patients are found avoiding looking into the eyes of others.
  • Attraction- Faces also play a significant role in the human sexual attraction that has been associated with the face average-ness, symmetry as well as sexual dimorphism. However, these attributes are also interconnected to mate quality so that the liking for them could be sexually selected. Moreover, precise coloration of the face influence perceived health that is essential for attractiveness.
  • Development- As far as the developmental path of face perception is concerned it has been seen that it is complex as well as only understood partly. The newborn infants are usually found detecting as well as visually orienting to face-like patterns in desire to other complex patterns. Moreover, the infants are also capable of discriminating as well as imitating few primary facial expressions within hours after birth. However, during the initial years of life, the mechanisms of face processing are ‘tuned’ by disclosure to faces as well as recognition performances sustained to improve throughout childhood and adolescence (Simion & Di Giorgio, 2015).
  • Neural specialization- In the brain various circuits are found supporting the perception of various kinds of information, this principle is very much important for those patients with brain damages as well as in the functional imaging studies. In the brain the most eminent face-specialized area is on the fusiform gyrus, this is the section where responses are more powerful to the faces that towards any other category of stimuli.

Theories on Face Perception

According to the expertise perspective, humans have displayed that face perception necessitate a diverse set of skills which are supported by various specialized neural circuits and further requires years to develop fully. Historically, it has been asserted that face individuation enhances very slowly and do not reach the adult level before adolescence along with the experience, which is the driving, force behind this usual improvement. McKone et al., (2012) has challenged this viewpoint based on their immense review of behavioral as well as neural findings. However, their findings have suggested qualitative presence of all the important phenomena associated to face individuation at the advance ages tested that is typically in between the age of 3-5years of age and for many people even infancy. The result has further confirmed that quantitative maturity by the early childhood is based on an increased number of behavioral studies, which have circumvent the usual methodological issues of restrictions of range and event-related potential but not about functional magnetic resonance imaging studies (McKone et al., 2012). Rossion (2013) stated that two identical halves, which are the top of a face, are recognized as being separate when their lower halves belong to some other faces, displaying that the parts of a face, which cannot be independently recognized from the total face. However, when a visual illusion is introduced in a matching task, the observers are found to make further mistakes as well as slower at matching those identical top halves of the faces, which are combined, with some other bottom halves than when those bottom halves are spatially balanced and is known as the composite face effect.

More than 60 studies have used this paradigm of composite face, which provided information regarding the specificity and nature of perceptual integration among the facial parts, the impairments of this procedure in obtained prosopagnosia, their developmental causes, temporal dynamics as well as neural basis (Rossion, 2013). Lastly, Rossion has also stated that standard composite face paradigm is separate from the application to facial parts of an interference paradigm, which has a long tradition in the experimental psychology since 1935 when Stroop originally expanded to measure attentional as well as response interference among the various representations rather than perceptual integration. According to the recent theories related to face perception they states that the capability to recognize a human face is not simply the outcome of an individualistic investigation of individual features but rather includes a holistic code of the associations among features. Moreover, this coding is thought to develop individual’s ability to perceive a face beyond what that is expected if each of the features were shown in segregation. Going against what most experts has to say about face perception Gold, Mundy and Tjan has found out that human observers combine facial features in a way which is no better than would be anticipated by their capability to utilize each individual’s features when displayed separately. Therefore, it is confirmed that a face is perceived no better than the whole of its parts (Gold, Mundy & Tjan, 2012).

Domain-Specific and Expertise Views on Face Perception

According to Di Giorgio et al., (2012), newborns does not display any voluntary visual liking for the human face when displayed concurrently with a money face which dispense same features, configuration as well as low-level perceptual properties. With further experiments, they said that newborns are capable to discriminate between two faces, which belong to two separate species, and lastly, they say that newborns are mainly found to favor looking at an upright, equated with an inverted monkey face as they do for the human face. Therefore, it can be said that for a newborn both, the faces be it of a monkey or a human being is same as they have similar features (Di Giorgio et al., 2012). Experts have further suggested that human visual system contains operations, which are specialized for faces. The face specific hypothesis proposes that face perception depends on the mechanism driven towards faces while on the other hand the expertise hypothesis states that faces are organized by more generic mechanisms that works on objects that people have extended experience with (Susilo et al., 2013). The capability to perceive faces that to perfectly as well as quickly be an evolutionarily reconciling process. However, from maximum of the studies, which has mainly focused on the neural correlates of face perception in the adult individuals, have attended on a dispersed networks of face-selective regions. Therefore, strong evidences from phylogenetic and ontogenetic studies that connects sub-cortical structures and presently there are few investigations on adult humans which indicate that the sub-cortical correlates of the face perception as well. Therefore, to the question, which addresses that whether low-level sub-cortical mechanisms for face-perception are preserved in human adults and if it does then what is the identity of these sub-cortical depictions is answered with a series of four experiments that displayed pairs of images to same or separate eyes. Thus, it was suggested from the findings that the preservation of phylogenetically as well as ontogenetically lower-order systems in adult individual face perception.

Conclusion 

Thus, to conclude the essay it can be said that according to domain specific viewpoint regarding face perception, face displays a number of expressions and thus, it is a skill to read other individual’s emotions through their facial expressions. Scientists have always been more interested in studying face perception, as it is an important medium of social interaction. Faces have seen found to be those informative stimuli, which are perceived by the other person first. Thus, as per the experts they stated that for infants too faces are the biggest stimuli producing medium at the very beginning of their life though which they analyses if the parents, teachers or people around them are happy, sad or angry by their behavior. Various experts in this field, it has stated that face perception is ‘multi-faced’ that means via faces individuals get social information as well. The experts have further revealed that children perceives a human face similarly with that of a monkey face because both have same type of facial configuration. Moreover, the recent theories in face perception says that human capability to recognize the faces is not the result of an individualistic investigation of the features rather it is a holistic code of the connection between the features.

References 

Baltazar, N. C., Shutts, K., & Kinzler, K. D. (2012). Children show heightened memory for threatening social actions. Journal of experimental child psychology, 112(1), 102-110.

Bettadapura, V. (2012). Face expression recognition and analysis: the state of the art. arXiv preprint arXiv:1203.6722.

Bruce, V., & Young, A. W. (2012). Face perception. Psychology Press.

Di Giorgio, E., Leo, I., Pascalis, O., & Simion, F. (2012). Is the face-perception system human-specific at birth?. Developmental psychology, 48(4), 1083.

Gabay, S., Nestor, A., Dundas, E., & Behrmann, M. (2014). Monocular advantage for face perception implicates subcortical mechanisms in adult humans. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, 26(5), 927-937.

Gold, J. M., Mundy, P. J., & Tjan, B. S. (2012). The perception of a face is no more than the sum of its parts. Psychological science, 23(4), 427-434.

McKone, E., Crookes, K., Jeffery, L., & Dilks, D. D. (2012). A critical review of the development of face recognition: Experience is less important than previously believed. Cognitive neuropsychology, 29(1-2), 174-212.

Rhodes, M. G., & Anastasi, J. S. (2012). The own-age bias in face recognition: a meta-analytic and theoretical review.

Rochat, P. (2014). Early social cognition: Understanding others in the first months of life. Psychology Press.

Rossion, B. (2013). The composite face illusion: A whole window into our understanding ofholistic face perception. Visual Cognition, 21(2), 139-253.

Simion, F., & Di Giorgio, E. (2015). Face perception and processing in early infancy: inborn predispositions and developmental changes. Frontiers in psychology, 6.

Susilo, T., Yovel, G., Barton, J. J., & Duchaine, B. (2013). Face perception is category-specific: Evidence from normal body perception in acquired prosopagnosia. Cognition, 129(1), 88-94.

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