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Reading into Faces: what reading and face recognition can tell us about the brain

Reading into faces: what it can tell you about the brain. 6-8pm 29 October. Register now  

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We open our eyes and perceive the world accurately and seemingly effortlessly. An ongoing puzzling question is how the brain makes sense of the signals we receive from the eyes in order to yield a meaningful and coherent interpretation of the world. One way to understand how this process works is to examine the behavioural deficits and neural mechanisms of individuals who suffer from disorders of perception. These impairments can manifest over the course of development, even in the absence of any obvious brain damage, and can also arise in adulthood in individuals who suffer some change in brain function (for example, a stroke). Studying such individuals offers a unique window into the workings of the brain. This talk will focus specifically on two types of disorders of visual perception, namely difficulties in reading and difficulties in face perception, both of which normally require fine-grained pattern recognition. Recent findings from functional neuroimaging and electrophysiological studies, which allow us to map out both the structure and function of the brains of individuals with perceptual disorders will be described and the implications and future direction of this research will be considered.

Professor Marlene Behrmann

Professor Marlene Behrmann Marlene Behrmann is the George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University; she is also CMU director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, a joint project of Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Behrmann's research is concerned with the psychological and neural bases of visual processing, with particular focus on the mechanisms by which the signals from the eye are transformed into meaningful and coherent percepts by the brain.

She adopts an interdisciplinary approach using a combination of computational, neuropsychological, and functional brain imaging studies with normal and brain-damaged individuals as well as with individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Behrmann has received many awards including the:

  • Presidential Early Career Award for Engineering and Science
  • APA Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contributions
  • Early Career award in Neuropsychology.