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katherine's picture

face recognition

This week's discussion about the different functions that different neurons perform piqued my interest.  Although neurons have the same structure, they have the ability to impact a wide variety of behaviors.  This made me wonder if it is possible for us to strengthen certain neurons/behavioral processes more than others.  Can we train them to become stronger?  Take muscle memory for example.  Those who practice keyboarding become faster and are more efficient than people who are just learning.  Certainly if I had not practiced typing for so many years then I would not be able to type as quickly as I am able today. 
I thought that this idea was present in an article I read in the New York Times called Facial Recogniction: Faces, Faces Everywhere.  The article discussed peoples' ability to see faces in items ranging from clouds to grilled cheese sandwiches.  One idea is that our brain trains us to recognize faces over other objects so we are more likely to see them in non-human objects like potato chips.  Similar I to how we teach our muscles to perform certain actions, we teach our brain to do the same.  In other words, there is "particular area of the brain gives faces priority, like an airline offering first-class passengers expedited boarding."  This made me wonder why humans prioritize seeing faces and not hearing sounds for example.  It seems logical that we would see faces in non-human objects since faces are how we generally recognize people but this also made me wonder what kinds of things could go wrong if there was something wrong with the face recognition mechanism in humans. 


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