Faces are one of the most significant social stimuli and the processes underlying face perception are at the intersection of cognition, affect, and motivation. Vision scientists have had a tremendous success of mapping the regions for perceptual analysis of faces in posterior cortex. Based on evidence from (a) single unit recording studies in monkeys and humans; (b) human functional localizer studies; and (c) meta-analyses of neuroimaging studies, I argue that faces automatically evoke responses not only in these regions but also in the amygdala. I also argue that (a) a key property of faces represented in the amygdala is their typicality; and (b) one of the functions of the amygdala is to bias attention to atypical faces, which are associated with higher uncertainty. This framework is consistent with a number of other amygdala findings not involving faces, suggesting a general account for the role of the amygdala in perception.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Face evaluation
- Face perception
- Social cognition