14th March 2006, 12:21
Join Date: Oct 2005
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| | Car lovers recognise cars as faces
Report from the New Scientist:
Men who are fanatical about cars identify vehicles using the same brain circuitry used to recognise faces, new research shows.
Forty men, half of whom were proven automobile aficionados, were fitted with sensors to monitor electrophysiological activity in part of the brain linked with facial identification. They were then asked to identify faces and cars, individually and then together. The car lovers had greater difficulty in recognising vehicles from isolated details, suggesting they recognise them "holistically". This method is normally associated with facial identification.
The researchers, Isabel Gauthier of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and Tim Curran of the University of Colorado at Boulder, say their findings contradict the theory that at one part of the brain is used solely for facial recognition.
Automobile aficionados also found it more difficult to identify an image consisting of parts of both faces and cars. The researchers say this "traffic jam" in the brain indicates that the same neural process is used to process both types of image
"This indicates that it is a basic perceptual process, not something that happens because auto experts attend to, or reason about, cars in a different way," Gauthier says. "At least some of the same neural circuitry must be involved in identifying faces and other objects of extreme interest,"
Andy Calder, at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge University, UK, agrees that the work indicates that the region of the brain used for facial recognition has a discernable effect on the recognition of other things.
Makes you wonder - is that why exotic cars and women elicit the same response from fellow BHPians!!
Last edited by John : 14th March 2006 at 12:23.