Understanding the recognition of facial identity and facial expression

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2005 Aug;6(8):641-51. doi: 10.1038/nrn1724.


Faces convey a wealth of social signals. A dominant view in face-perception research has been that the recognition of facial identity and facial expression involves separable visual pathways at the functional and neural levels, and data from experimental, neuropsychological, functional imaging and cell-recording studies are commonly interpreted within this framework. However, the existing evidence supports this model less strongly than is often assumed. Alongside this two-pathway framework, other possible models of facial identity and expression recognition, including one that has emerged from principal component analysis techniques, should be considered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Face*
  • Humans
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*