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A cognitive template for human face detection

Prunty, Jonathan E, Jenkins, Rob, Qarooni, Rana, Bindemann, Markus (2024) A cognitive template for human face detection. Cognition, 249 . Article Number 105792. ISSN 0010-0277. E-ISSN 1873-7838. (doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2024.105792) (KAR id:106156)


Faces are highly informative social stimuli, yet before any information can be accessed, the face must first be detected in the visual field. A detection template that serves this purpose must be able to accommodate the wide variety of face images we encounter, but how this generality could be achieved remains unknown. In this study, we investigate whether statistical averages of previously encountered faces can form the basis of a general face detection template. We provide converging evidence from a range of methods-human similarity judgements and PCA-based image analysis of face averages (Experiment 1-3), human detection behaviour for faces embedded in complex scenes (Experiment 4 and 5), and simulations with a template-matching algorithm (Experiment 6 and 7)-to examine the formation, stability and robustness of statistical image averages as cognitive templates for human face detection. We integrate these findings with existing knowledge of face identification, ensemble coding, and the development of face perception.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.cognition.2024.105792
Uncontrolled keywords: Cognitive, Detection, Face, Averages, Templates
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: Leverhulme Trust (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2024 13:03 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2024 09:38 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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