Understanding Person Recognition: Psychological, Computational, and Neural Perspectives

Seminar | March 14 | 3:30-5 p.m. | 5101 Tolman Hall

 Alice O’Toole, School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences The University of Texas at Dallas

 Department of Psychology

The study of person recognition over the last decade has concentrated almost entirely on recognition from the faces. In the real world, recognition of others often begins at a distance, where identity-specific information in the face is poorly resolved. At this distance, identity information in the shape of the body can support and constrain recognition. Remarkably little is known about how we perceive body shape and even less is known about the nature of visual features that represent bodies in high-level cortex. The limited intuition visual scientists have about the complex visual features that might represent bodies is at odds with the simple observation that verbal descriptions of bodies (e.g., curvy, long-legged) can elicit vivid mental images of body shape. I will present recent work from my lab that explores the relationship between body shapes and body descriptions. This work shows that a small number of words can be used to generate categorically accurate representations of three-dimensional bodies. Could the need to translate visual images into language and vice verse be a key to understandings high-level shape representations in the ventral visual stream? I will also present functional neuroimaging data that point to the importance of bodies and biological motion in decisions about person familiarity in real-world viewing conditions.

 psychadmin@berkeley.edu