Yins Face Inversion Effect and the Within-Class Discriminations
Facial recognition is a crucial ability that is required in order for one to survive. Humans beings, on the majority tend to use faces in order to recognise others, to signal identity, differentiate between genders, race and attractiveness, faces are also use in order to discriminate between the face of a stranger and familiar faces.
There have been a range of arguments which have proposed the notion that faces are special in comparison to other objects such as cars, additionally, arguments posit the idea that faces are processed separately in the brain from other objects, within a domain-specific module dedicated to face perception. As a result of this, the purpose of this current essay is to deliberate if faces are special using the evidence provided by a variety of studies involving healthy and damaged brains.
It has been understood through the use of research that faces are special. For example, according to a study conducted by Simon, researchers found that from birth, new-born babies are drawn to faces and are able to recognise their mother’s face and prefer an attractive face in comparison to other faces. This suggests that faces obtain a sort of ‘specialness’ as being able to recognise faces has been found to be innate.
Similarly, faces have been considered as special in a study by Yin 1969. Yin aimed to present participants, who were all individuals with healthy brains with a stimulus within a category which were either faces, drawings of stickmen, houses or airplanes. Participants conducted several tasks, one of which included identifying the stimuli presented as inverted.
Findings showed that when the stimulus was inverted, it decreased the participants capability of being able to recognise the category of the stimulus. Despite this, the inverted stimuli were three times more likely to impede recognition abilities for faces in comparison to other stimuli that were not faces. This suggests that faces are special as findings advocate that the faces and non faces stimuli are processed differently. The researcher explained the findings being due to the concept that faces are processed in a holistic way with a dependence on configural information however, stimuli which are not faces are processed using featural information in a predicamental way.
Further research has been conducted in this domain in order to explore this idea further. Diamond and Carey disagreed at the fact that faces, and non-face stimuli were processed in different ways, they also disagreed with the idea that faces are special. The authors suggested that the idea of the Face Inversion effect found by Yin was not due to using configural and featural information, however, the findings was a result of having an expertise with faces.
The authors argued that if an individual is an expert in a group of any homogeneous stimuli, whereby all the members share the same or similar features, individuals will start to acquire configural information in order to improve the discrimination of its exemplars. The authors assertion was based on evidence of a study they conducted using dog experts and non-dog as their participants.
All participants were given a similar test as the previous Yin study whereby participants were presented with photos of dogs and well as human faces. Similarly, participants were asked to recognise the dog and human faces both upright and inverted. Despite the current researcher’s disagreement to Yins Face Inversion Effect, this effect was understandably found in their study for faces. Interestingly, the participants who were dog experts showed similar inversion effects for dogs while non-experts did not. These findings, therefore, suggest that experts processed faces and dogs in a similar way. As a result, faces are special as the face of a dog and the face of a human both possess similar attributes, such as eyes, nose and a mouth in similar places.
The fusiform face area (FFA) is an element of the human visual system and it is specialises in recognising faces, FFA was discovered in 1997 by Kanwusher. Some individuals with prosopagnosia have shown no FFA activation when viewing faces. The study found that there was a weak response when recognising whole faces, showing that FFA is selective for faces suggesting that faces are not special.
There have been cases in regard to the within-class discriminations, this has been found in a variety of object classes such as fruit and cars. There has also been a double disassociation between human and animal faces as found in a study by McNeil & Warrington, 1992, this study involved a participant who has prosopagnosia. Prosopagnosia is the inability to recognise familiar faces, this is typically caused by neurological damage typically from a stroke or head injury.
This study is based on a case study regarding a sheep farmer, WJ who suffered from prosopagnosia and despite this, the farmer was still able to recognise and identify his sheep. This is evidence which suggests that the concept that faces are special is indeed compelling. Despite this, there are alternative explanations for these findings which may go against the notion that faces are special.
This is due to the idea that in order to recognise faces there needs to be a decision made within-class and second-order relations and between facial features. Some could claim that prospopagnosia is not the injury of the ‘face’ but an injury to the region responsible for making delicate within-class decisions. This raises the question as to why faces are selectively impaired.
In conclusion, in the main, it is patent that faces are special based on the proposed research for both healthy and unhealthy brains as both set of participants whilst conducting a variety of tasks were able to show via findings that the brain has a special element for facial recognition. Despite this, some studies suggest that faces are not faces but this does not outweigh nor do they show substantial evidence to suggest that faces are special.
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