Face perception: computational insights from phylogeny

Marlene Behrmann, Galia Avidan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Studies of face perception in primates elucidate the psychological and neural mechanisms that support this critical and complex ability. Recent progress in characterizing face perception across species, for example in insects and reptiles, has highlighted the ubiquity over phylogeny of this key ability for social interactions and survival. Here, we review the competence in face perception across species and the types of computation that support this behavior. We conclude that the computational complexity of face perception evinced by a species is not related to phylogenetic status and is, instead, largely a product of environmental context and social and adaptive pressures. Integrating findings across evolutionary data permits the derivation of computational principles that shed further light on primate face perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-363
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2022


  • conspecifics
  • evolution
  • face inversion
  • face recognition
  • familiarity
  • holistic processing
  • phylogeny
  • species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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