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Face Recognition: The Eyes Have It

Date:
March 27, 2009
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Our brain extracts important information for face recognition principally from the eyes, and secondly from the mouth and nose, according to a new study. This result was obtained by analyzing several hundred face images in a way similar to that of the brain.

Our brain extracts important information for face recognition principally from the eyes.
Credit: iStockphoto/Cristian Ardelean

Our brain extracts important information for face recognition principally from the eyes, and secondly from the mouth and nose, according to a new study from a researcher at the University of Barcelona. This result was obtained by analyzing several hundred face images in a way similar to that of the brain.

Imagine a photograph showing your friend's face. Although you might think that every single detail in his face matters to recognize him, numerous experiments have shown that the brain prefers a rather coarse resolution instead, irrespective of the distance at which a face is seen. Until now, the reason for this was unclear. By analyzing 868 male and 868 female face images, the new study may explain why.

The results indicate that the most useful information is obtained from the images if their size is around 30 x 30 pixels. Moreover, images of eyes give the least "noisy" result (meaning that they convey more reliable information to the brain compared to images of the mouth and nose), suggesting that face recognition mechanisms in the brain are specialized to the eyes.

This work complements a previously conducted study published in PLoS One, which found that artificial face recognition systems have the best recognition performance when processing rather small face images – meaning that machines should do it just like humans.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Keil et al. "I Look in Your Eyes, Honey": Internal Face Features Induce Spatial Frequency Preference for Human Face Processing. PLoS Computational Biology, 2009; 5 (3): e1000329 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000329

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Face Recognition: The Eyes Have It." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090326215054.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2009, March 27). Face Recognition: The Eyes Have It. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090326215054.htm
Public Library of Science. "Face Recognition: The Eyes Have It." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090326215054.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

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