Face Processing Systems: From Neurons to Real-World Social Perception

Winrich Freiwald, Bradley Duchaine, Galit Yovel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Primate face processing depends on a distributed network of interlinked face-selective areas composed of face-selective neurons. In both humans and macaques, the network is divided into a ventral stream and a dorsal stream, and the functional similarities of the areas in humans and macaques indicate they are homologous. Neural correlates for face detection, holistic processing, face space, and other key properties of human face processing have been identified at the single neuron level, and studies providing causal evidence have established firmly that face-selective brain areas are central to face processing. These mechanisms give rise to our highly accurate familiar face recognition but also to our error-prone performance with unfamiliar faces. This limitation of the face system has important implications for consequential situations such as eyewitness identification and policing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-346
Number of pages22
JournalAnnual Review of Neuroscience
StatePublished - 8 Jul 2016


  • Face recognition
  • Functional brain organization
  • Neural mechanisms of behavior
  • Social brain function

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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