Abstract

In our everyday life, we continuously get to know people, dominantly through their faces. Several neuroscientific experiments showed that familiarization changes the behavioral processing and underlying neural representation of faces of others. Here, we propose a model of the process of how we actually get to know someone. First, the purely visual familiarization of unfamiliar faces occurs. Second, the accumulation of associated, nonsensory information refines person representation, and finally, one reaches a stage where the effortless identification of very well-known persons occurs. We offer here an overview of neuroimaging studies, first evaluating how and in what ways the processing of unfamiliar and familiar faces differs and, second, by analyzing the fMRI adaptation and multivariate pattern analysis results we estimate where identity-specific representation is found in the brain. The available neuroimaging data suggest that different aspects of the information emerge gradually as one gets more and more familiar with a person within the same network. We propose a novel model of familiarity and identity processing, where the differential activation of long-term memory and emotion processing areas is essential for correct identification.

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