CBMM | Quest Seminar Series: The Second Face-Processing System

Tuesday, November 08, 2022 at 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Singleton Auditorium, 46-3002

Speaker: Prof. Winrich Freiwald, The Rockefeller University

Current understanding of the neural mechanisms of face processing, and the computational principles they employ, is based, primarily, on studies of a set of fMRI-identified face areas inside macaque inferotemporal cortex. These face areas contain very high fractions of face cells, occur at reproducible locations, and are directly and selectively interconnected to form a face-processing network. Within this network, a processing hierarchy is implemented, along which an initial representation dominated mostly be image-based features is transformed, in two major steps, into a representation dominated by identity. The clarity of the system’s organization and the qualitatively different representations across face areas, have facilitated the understanding of the mechanisms and principles of hierarchical information processing. According to the standard view, the system instantiates a subsystem of the general object-processing ventral stream. In my talk, I will describe the discovery and basic properties of a second face-processing system. The second system shares one fundamental organizational feature, differs in many functional properties, and exhibits several surprising features such that its overall organization appears to be almost the inverse of the first system’s pattern of organization. I will describe these results, which link to some of the oldest findings on face cells, propose a functional theory of this system’s role, and discuss the impact of these findings on our implicit and explicit assumptions about face and object processing systems.

Winrich Freiwald is a Professor and head of the Laboratory of Neural Systems at The Rockefeller University. Freiwald studies how the brain’s visual system extracts social meaning from a face and then influences other circuits to generate emotional reactions, activate memories, direct attention, and guide social actions. He aims to uncover how facial recognition circuits drive cognition and how alterations of these circuits lead to psychiatric disorders.

This will be an in person event only. No Zoom, live stream or recording will be available.

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