Cover image for In the eye of the beholder : the science of face perception
In the eye of the beholder : the science of face perception
Bruce, Vicki.
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Publication Information:
Oxford, England ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
x, 280 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF242 .B75 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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This book, written to accompany an exhibition of the same title at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, in Spring 1998, will provide a non-technical introduction to the science of the human face and the psychology of face perception. The human face has many important biological roles, Eyes, ears, and mouth are the source of most of our sensory inputs, We intake air, food, and liquid through our nose and mouth; our eyes and ears are spaced to perceive distance; our jaws are built for chewing and swallowing. Socially, facesmore than any other part of the body, provide us with crucial information. A universally important locus of communication, we use our faces for speech, and to express emotions, the most widely investigated social signals. Easier to remember than names, faces are important cues for recognisingothers; we are adept at distinguising old from young, male from female, or one ethnic group from another on the basis of facial features. We use faces in identikit parades, readily identify faces from grotesque caricatures, detect family resemblances, and judege attractiveness on the basis offacial features. In fact, neurobiologists have shown that there are special areas of the brain dedicated to processing faces and that we are born imprinted with an innate understanding of facial patterns. Vicki Bruce and Andy Young explore all of these diverse aspects of the human face in their fascinating book. Each topic is illustrated using reproductions of portraits from the gallery's extensive collections, as well as state-of-the art computer-manipulated graphics. An attractive andaccessible book, this will be of interest to anyone who has ever wondered why and how faces are special, to humans generally, and to the human brain in particular.

Author Notes

Vicki Bruce is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Stirling. Andrew Young is a Professor in the MRC Applied Psychology Unit at Cambridge University.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Art and science join hands in this beautifully illustrated book on the subject of human facial perception. Bruce (psychology, Univ. of Stirling) and Young (applied psychology, Cambridge Univ.) describe the neurological processes that occur as we look at a face and suggest reasons for the almost universal reaction to beauty and certain features of facial "personality." Written to accompany a recent exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the book successfully illustrates psychological and neurological processes with pieces from the show. While emphasizing research in psychology, the authors also include relevant discoveries in the fields of medicine, biology, and engineering. Daniel McNeill's The Face (Little, Brown, 1998) covers similar ground in a slightly more engaging, accessible manner‘though without the extensive and effective use of illustration found here. Both books are recommended for their organization, clarity of text, and unusual insight into human behavior.‘Laurie Bartolini, Illinois State Lib., Springfield (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: The face - organ of communication
2 Light, Colour, and shape: The science of vision
3 Physical differences between faces: Age, sex, and race
4 The mating game: attractiveness and the sociobiology
5 Whose face is it? How individual faces are recognised
6 Messages from the face: Lipreading, gaze, and expression
7 In the brain of the beholder: The neuroscience of face perception