Face Recognition

Steven Z. Rapcsak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose of Review: Functional imaging studies, intracranial recordings, and lesion-deficit correlations in neurological patients have produced unique insights into the cognitive mechanisms and neural substrates of face recognition. In this review, we highlight recent advances in the field and integrate data from these complementary lines of research to propose a functional neuroanatomical model of face identity recognition. Recent Findings: Rather than being localized to a single specialized cortical region, face recognition is supported by a distributed neural network. Core components of the network include face-selective visual areas in the ventral occipito-temporal cortex, whereas the extended network is comprised of anterior temporal lobe structures involved in the retrieval of multimodal identity-specific knowledge about familiar individuals, the amygdala responsible for generating emotional responses to faces, and prefrontal regions that provide top-down executive control of the recognition process. Damage to different network components results in neuropsychological disorders of face identity processing manifested either as impaired recognition of familiar faces (prosopagnosia, person recognition disorders) or as false recognition/misidentification of unfamiliar faces. Summary: Face identity recognition requires the coordinated activity of a large-scale neural network. Neurological damage can compromise the structural/functional integrity of specific network nodes or their connections and give rise to face recognition disorders with distinct clinical features and underlying cognitive mechanisms determined primarily by the location of the lesion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number41
JournalCurrent Neurology and Neuroscience Reports
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • Face recognition
  • False recognition/misidentification
  • Person recognition disorders
  • Prosopagnosia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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