This article is a small sample from DISCOVER's special issue The Brain.
Essence of a Face
Scientists at the Face Research Lab at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, used shape-analysis software to morph
Angelina Jolie’s distinctive features—full lips, large eyes, and narrow nostrils—into an “average” face, a combination of
50 white female faces. (Researchers believe that when we see a face, we compare it with an average face of the same sex, race, and age range.) Following pages: Jolie’s distinctive traits were subtracted from the average (far left) to create an “anti-Jolie” with smaller eyes, flatter eyebrows, and a long jaw. Humans seem to recognize and remember faces this way, by comparing
the features of each new face to an
average and filing away the differences in
a mental “face space.” - Emily Elert