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Adva Shoham, Libi Kliger, Galit Yovel; The conceptual-social benefit in face recognition is mediated by the social brain network rather than the perceptual face network. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):656. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.656.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Face recognition benefits from associating conceptual-social information to faces during learning. For example, making trait-inferences, relative to perceptual-evaluations, during face learning improves face recognition. Two hypotheses were proposed to account for this conceptual-social benefit in face recognition. According to the feature elaboration hypothesis, social evaluations encourage elaborated processing of perceptual information for faces. According to a conceptual-social hypothesis, social evaluations convert faces from a perceptual image-based representation to a socially meaningful representation of a person. To test these hypotheses, we ran a functional MRI study in which we functionally localized the occipital-temporal face areas (i.e., perceptual face network) as well as the social brain network (e.g., dmPFC, vmPFC, PCC, TPJ). Prior to scanning, participants watched video clips depicting a social interaction between young adults and were asked to study them for a memory test while making either perceptual evaluations (e.g., how round/symmetric is the face?) or conceptual-social evaluations (e.g., how trustworthy/intelligent does the face look?) about them. During the fMRI scan, participants performed an old/new recognition test on the faces that were presented during the learning phase in the video clips and novel faces. Behavioral findings replicated the conceptual-social benefit in face recognition. Functional MRI results showed higher fMRI signal during recognition for the faces that were evaluated conceptually than perceptually during learning, in the social network areas but not in ventral-occipital face areas. These results support the conceptual-social hypothesis indicating that the conceptual benefit of face recognition is mediated by social rather than perceptual mechanisms.
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