Scientists have created morphed images using the features of two Hollywood stars to create one strangely familiar but odd-looking face.
They made the images for a study on whether the brain recognises people by conscious perception or by visual stimulus alone.
The study found that for the same ambiguous morphed images, the neurons fired according to the subjective perception by the subjects rather than the visual stimulus.
They concluded that neurons fire in line with conscious recognition of images rather than the actual images seen.
The study was carried out by Rodrigo Quian Quiroga at Leicester, Alexander Kraskov from University College London, Christof Koch at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Florian Mormann at the University of Bonn and Itzhak Fried at the University of California Los Angeles.
Their paper, Single-Cell Responses to Face Adaptation in the Human Medial Temporal Lobe, is published in the journal Neuron.
Professor Quiroga says we’re constantly bombarded with noisy and ambiguous sensory information and our brain is constantly making decisions based on such limited data.
“We indeed see the face of a friend rather than the combination of visual features that compose the person’s face,” he says.
“The neurons we report in this article fire exactly to this, to the subjective perception by the subjects, not to the features of the faces they were seeing.
“As Aristotle put it, we create images of the external world and use these images rather than the sensory stimulus itself for our thoughts. These neurons encode exactly that.”
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