New insight into the origin of face recognition in humans
Hormone therapy could accentuate certain pre-existing heart disease risk factors and a heart health evaluation should become the norm when considering estrogen replacement, new research suggests. The research also showed that in women without existing atherosclerosis, hormone therapy use included some positive effects on lipids but also some negative effects related to heart health, said
Full Post: Hormone therapy could be dangerous for women pre-existing heart disease risk factors
Chimpanzees recognize their pals by using some of the same brain regions that switch on when humans register a familiar face, according to a report published online on December 18th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.
The study - the first to examine brain activity in chimpanzees after they attempt to match fellow chimps’ faces - offers new insight into the origin of face recognition in humans, the researchers said.
“We can learn about human origins by studying our closest relatives,” said Lisa Parr, a researcher at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University. “We can discover what aspects of human cognition are really unique and which are present in other animals.”
Earlier studies had shown that chimpanzees, like humans, are adept at recognizing their peers. “We knew [from behavioral studies] that chimps and humans process faces similarly,” Parr said. “We wondered whether similar brain regions were responsible, and, for the most part, they seem to be.”
In the study, the researchers examined brain activity (as reflected by blood sugar metabolism) in five chimpanzees by using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans. (Parr noted that the Yerkes National Primate Research Center is the only center of its kind to have on-site MRI, PET, and cyclotron facilities, making studies like Parr’s possible.) The chimps were shown three faces, two of which were identical, while the third was of a different chimp. Subjects were then asked to indicate the faces that matched. In other trials, the chimpanzees did the same matching task with clip art images.
The imaging studies revealed significant face-selective activity in brain regions known to make up the distributed cortical face-processing network in humans. Further study showed distinct patches of activity in a region known as the fusiform gyrus - the primary site of face-selective activity in humans - when chimps observed faces.
The researchers concluded that the brain regions that are active during facial recognition may represent part of a distributed neural system for face processing in chimpanzees, like that proposed in humans, in which the initial visual analysis of faces activates regions in the occipital and temporal lobes of the cerebral cortex (a portion of the brain involved in memory, attention, and perceptual awareness) followed by additional processing in the fusiform gyrus and other regions.
Parr emphasized, however, that there have been decades of research on face processing in the human brain. As the first such study in chimpanzees, the new findings raise more questions than they can answer, and follow-up studies are underway.
Oxytocin, a hormone involved in child-birth and breast-feeding, helps people recognize familiar faces, according to new research in the January 7 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. Study participants who had one dose of an oxytocin nasal spray showed improved recognition memory for faces, but not for inanimate objects. “This is the first paper showing
Full Post: Oxytocin hormone helps people recognize familiar faces
Canadian researchers have found more evidence that older adults aren’t able to filter out distracting information as well as younger adults. In an interesting twist, this latest discovery was made because of - rather than in spite of -the noisy environment that research participants must tolerate when having their brains scanned inside a donut-shaped magnet
Full Post: Aging brain easily distracted
Scientists have long known that women’s preferences for masculine men change throughout their menstrual cycles. A new study from Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute is the first to demonstrate differences in brain activity as women considered masculinized and feminized male faces and whether the person was a potential sexual partner. The researchers identified regions of the
Full Post: Researchers identify regions of female brain that respond more strongly to masculine faces
Michael J. Tarr, a Brown University scientist, and graduate student Adrian Nestor have discovered this color difference in an analysis of dozens of faces. They determined that men tend to have more reddish skin and greenish skin is more common for women. The finding has important implications in cognitive science research, such as the study
Full Post: Men have more red in their faces and women have more green
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Dr. Prabir Bhattacharya and his computers might. He and Concordia graduate student Abu Sayeed Sohail are developing a computer image processing system that detects and classifies human facial expressions. The aim of this system is to take and analyze photos of individuals, potentially in areas
Full Post: New image processing system detects and classifies human facial expressions