Facial Perception, Recognition, and Evaluation

Have you ever actually wondered how we are so good at seeing faces? We see faces in the moon, on Mars, and even faces in clouds, cracks in the walls, and mail-boxes.

You also probably never thought about why you could tell between your mother and your best friend, and almost instantly know their emotions.

But this is exactly what my topic is about. I love psychology, the way the brain works, and speculation on why it works the way it does. I actually came across this topic through a handful of different documentaries and videos, one of which was Brain Games. This idea that we are programmed to see faces really mesmerized me.

People don’t appreciate this topic and what it does for all humans. Without it, our lives would be very different, and this can be seen in people who have diseases and brain damage that inhibit them from recognizing faces. We are all very social animals, and without the ability to recognize faces, we loose this sociality. I can not say whether or not we would be lonely, but I can say that without the ability to comprehend faces, there would be no such thing as social health.

Other faces keep us healthy, and are a passage through which empathy and social maturity flows. If we couldn’t distinguish between people, as some people can’t, due to mental disease, children would never reach social maturity.

Because we are all dependent on this system, people who lack certain elements of this ability suffer gravely. As of today, like other mental diseases and brain damage, there is no direct cure. People with diseases such as prosopagnosia need to learn to recognize people in other manners. One man, before discovering he had ‘face blindness’ told a friend at the movies that it was silly that robbers covered their faces, since you could still see the rest of their body. Unlike other diseases, prosopagnosia and other face blindnesses can be worked around using other techniques of recognizing people.

In the end I have realized that without the ability to recognize and decode faces, we wouldn’t be social animals. We would be loners. But because we have had this ability since the day we are born, we take it for granted. We don’t realize how much of the brain goes into making facial recognition work, and how lucky we are to have it.

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