Exploring the unconscious using faces

Trends Cogn Sci. 2015 Jan;19(1):35-45. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2014.11.003. Epub 2014 Dec 4.


Understanding the mechanisms of unconscious processing is one of the most substantial endeavors of cognitive science. While there are many different empirical ways to address this question, the use of faces in such research has proven exceptionally fruitful. We review here what has been learned about unconscious processing through the use of faces and face-selective neural correlates. A large number of cognitive systems can be explored with faces, including emotions, social cueing and evaluation, attention, multisensory integration, and various aspects of face processing.

Keywords: face-selective biomarkers; faces; invisible stimuli; unconscious processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Facial Recognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Social Perception
  • Unconscious, Psychology*