Holistic face perception

Marlene Behrmann, Jennifer J. Richler, Galia Avidan, Ruth Kimchi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


There remains ongoing debate regarding the mechanisms that give rise to rapid and accurate face recognition. We review findings from studies that examine face perception in normal observers and in individuals with face recognition impairments (‘prosopagnosia’) that shed light on these underlying mechanisms. Based on these results and on additional evidence from the literature, we argue that holistic face processing is not necessarily based on template-like, undifferentiated representations. Rather, we suggest that holistic processing can be accomplished by alternative mechanisms such as an automatic attentional strategy and/or that it can emerge from the interactive processing of face configuration and features. We also raise the possibility that similar mechanisms may be at play in other domains of visual processing, as well.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Perceptual Organisation
EditorsJohan Wagemans
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780191766862
ISBN (Print)9780199686858
StatePublished - Jun 2014

Publication series

NameOxford Library of Psychology


  • configural processing
  • face recognition
  • featural processing
  • holistic
  • perception
  • prosopagnosia
  • vision


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