The neural mechanisms of face processing: cells, areas, networks, and models

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2020 Feb;60:184-191. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2019.12.007. Epub 2020 Jan 17.


Since its discovery, the face-processing network in the brain of the macaque monkey has emerged as a model system that allowed for major neural mechanisms of face recognition to be identified - with implications for object recognition at large. Populations of face cells encode faces through broad tuning curves, whose shapes change over time. Face representations differ qualitatively across faces areas, and we not only understand the global organization of these specializations, but also some of the transformations between face areas, both feed-forward and feed-back, and the computational principles behind face representations and transformations. Facial information is combined with physical features and mnemonic features in extensions of the core network, which forms an early part of the primate social brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Orientation
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Perception