Is there a science behind the ability to visualize peoples faces?

Posted:
in AppleOutsider edited January 2014
I've noticed that some people, after seeing their face for 10 seconds, I can clearly visualize it in my head for days and weeks afterwards. Other people, after spending a whole day or two with them, seeing their face for hours upon hours, I have real trouble clearly visualizing their face afterwards. I can see their general outline, and some specific features, but not most of the face or the expression. Are there any theories about what it means that I can't visualize a certain persons face even after spending a bunch of time with them? One friend told me that that happens when you care a lot about the person. Is that true?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    kishankishan Posts: 732member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thehellgate911 View Post


    I've noticed that some people, after seeing their face for 10 seconds, I can clearly visualize it in my head for days and weeks afterwards. Other people, after spending a whole day or two with them, seeing their face for hours upon hours, I have real trouble clearly visualizing their face afterwards. I can see their general outline, and some specific features, but not most of the face or the expression. Are there any theories about what it means that I can't visualize a certain persons face even after spending a bunch of time with them? One friend told me that that happens when you care a lot about the person. Is that true?



    Not sure that I can speak to how memory works, but I have read some theories on face recognition that postulate that the more any given face differs from some generic model of a face that our brain holds, the easier it is to remember. It jibes well with other physiologic processes, such as temperature control, that depend on a set-point stored in the brain. I am sure that with memory, context plays a huge role. Psychologists talk about "state dependent learning", and anyone who has studied to music can probably attest to its validity. Is his book, On Intelligence, Jeff Hawkins writes about a stereotyped series of movements our eyes go through when scanning a face. We are incapable of taking the whole face in at once. Instead, our eyes jump from eye to eye to nose to mouth and back and forth in a saccadic rhythm. Our brains seem to be pre-wired to look at faces and to find facial patterns.



    Don't know that this answers any of your question, but it is an interesting topic.



    PS: 600th post
  • Reply 2 of 41
    Stuff's way over my head, but...I recall an article on dreaming and it said that the strangers you see in your dreams are actually people you've seen in real life, mere passerby's and glances at faces you've imputed and stored...
  • Reply 3 of 41
    hardeeharharhardeeharhar Posts: 4,841member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thehellgate911 View Post


    I've noticed that some people, after seeing their face for 10 seconds, I can clearly visualize it in my head for days and weeks afterwards. Other people, after spending a whole day or two with them, seeing their face for hours upon hours, I have real trouble clearly visualizing their face afterwards. I can see their general outline, and some specific features, but not most of the face or the expression. Are there any theories about what it means that I can't visualize a certain persons face even after spending a bunch of time with them? One friend told me that that happens when you care a lot about the person. Is that true?



    no.



    some people just aren't distinct.
  • Reply 4 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hardeeharhar View Post


    no.



    some people just aren't distinct.



    A girl that I like and find attractive isn't distinct to me? Normally when I meet a cute girl, I remember what she looks like. How come I can't visualize this girls face clearly?
  • Reply 5 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thehellgate911 View Post


    How come I can't visualize this girls face clearly?



    Shawn, you wanna take this one or shall I?
  • Reply 6 of 41
    hardeeharharhardeeharhar Posts: 4,841member
    hellgate...



    her breasts... you have to stop staring at her breasts.
  • Reply 7 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hardeeharhar View Post


    hellgate...



    her breasts... you have to stop staring at her breasts.



    \



    I wasn't even thinking along those lines because I assumed you guys were more mature than this.



    I was not staring at her breasts.



    Can we get on with the topic please?



    edit: To clarify, i've met plenty of girls with big breasts and dull faces, and I can still vividly imagine their faces in my mind. This girl had a unique, pretty face, and small breasts. Regardless, I wasn't staring at them.
  • Reply 8 of 41
    hardeeharharhardeeharhar Posts: 4,841member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thehellgate911 View Post


    \



    I wasn't even thinking along those lines because I assumed you guys were more mature than this.



    I was not staring at her breasts.



    Can we get on with the topic please?



    edit: To clarify, i've met plenty of girls with big breasts and dull faces, and I can still vividly imagine their faces in my mind. This girl had a unique, pretty face, and small breasts. Regardless, I wasn't staring at them.



    oh boo fucking hoo...



    men of all ages stare at women's breasts... what is the problem with admitting that you do?



    it is deceitful to suggest that you don't unless, of course, you don't swing that way...



    your heart was all atwitter with this girl? you were occupied with not sounding like the douche you are? well these distractions can bump long term memories from being formed...
  • Reply 9 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hardeeharhar View Post


    oh boo fucking hoo...



    men of all ages stare at women's breasts... what is the problem with admitting that you do?



    it is deceitful to suggest that you don't unless, of course, you don't swing that way...



    your heart was all atwitter with this girl? you were occupied with not sounding like the douche you are? well these distractions can bump long term memories from being formed...



    I didn't say I never looked at her breasts. I said that I wasn't staring at them.



    As for your theory, it makes sense, except for the fact that it doesn't take any work for me to not sound like a douche, because i'm not a douche. When are you gonna grow up?



    I'm now dating this girl and things are going really well. I can also visualize her face because I spent four days with her recently. It would still be interesting to know why after the first day I couldn't visualize her face though. If anyone else has any idea, feel free to share.



    And please, let's omit false and rude assumptions about other peoples real-life personalities from the conversation.
  • Reply 10 of 41
    hardeeharharhardeeharhar Posts: 4,841member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thehellgate911 View Post


    I didn't say I never looked at her breasts. I said that I wasn't staring at them.



    As for your theory, it makes sense, except for the fact that it doesn't take any work for me to not sound like a douche, because i'm not a douche. When are you gonna grow up?



    I'm now dating this girl and things are going really well. I can also visualize her face because I spent four days with her recently. It would still be interesting to know why after the first day I couldn't visualize her face though. If anyone else has any idea, feel free to share.



    And please, let's omit false and rude assumptions about other peoples real-life personalities from the conversation.



    Uh? There is plenty of hard evidence here and elsewhere that suggests that you are a douche.

    I barely need to cite the sources for everyone to know it to be true.



    Why don't you grow up to face the fact that you are an often and entirely repugnant shell of a person?
  • Reply 11 of 41
    marcukmarcuk Posts: 4,442member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thehellgate911 View Post


    I didn't say I never looked at her breasts. I said that I wasn't staring at them.



    As for your theory, it makes sense, except for the fact that it doesn't take any work for me to not sound like a douche, because i'm not a douche. When are you gonna grow up?



    I'm now dating this girl and things are going really well. I can also visualize her face because I spent four days with her recently. It would still be interesting to know why after the first day I couldn't visualize her face though. If anyone else has any idea, feel free to share.



    And please, let's omit false and rude assumptions about other peoples real-life personalities from the conversation.



    dont take any notice of him if it bothers you, it was a bit mean, but the premise was on the right track,



    I know you are a very mature guy and have been bought up with good manners and such, but sometimes the best way, indeed the most mature, and refined way of dealing with a bit of rudeness and false assumptions is just to laugh it off and chill a bit, afterall - you know that it wasn't you who was being a 'douche' - so why not let him make a fool of himself by being one himself,



    laugh it off, try not to give the impression of being a bit uptight, know who you really are, and accept that in life, a bit of swerving and lubrication makes everything go so much easier.



    - and stop staring at her breasts....
  • Reply 12 of 41
    If only you were this sincere with SDW...
  • Reply 13 of 41
    hardeeharharhardeeharhar Posts: 4,841member
    Marc, your pandering to macgeek doesn't help his development as a person. It isn't his actions that make him a douche, it is his inability to learn from them -- he repeats the same mistake time and again. What he needs to realize is that he isn't a cool guy everyone loves. His self-aggrandizement is off-putting. His forced internet 'conversations' laughable. etc. This hasn't been beaten into his head through normal circumstances so it is about time for him to learn the truth via more forceful thrashings. Nothing I have said is false. Nothing I have done to macgeek would I not do again.
  • Reply 14 of 41
    You're right Marc, thanks.



    I feel it would be rather weird and pointless to take the word of a group of anonymous people on an internet forum, and begin altering my personality/behavior in the real world based on it. I'll let my internet life and my real life co-exist. On internet forums, i'm considered an asshole and a douche, and in real life i'm considered a really great person.
  • Reply 15 of 41
    Not just a great person, a really great person!
  • Reply 16 of 41
    hardeeharharhardeeharhar Posts: 4,841member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post


    Not just a great person, a really great person!







    These little linguistic insights into macgeek's mind make me all warm and tingly like after a warm bath with piranhas...



    I really do wonder how this kid operates in the real world completely unaware of the fact that the vast majority of his interactions are misinterpreted by himself.



    There was a post-doc giving a talk at a recent conference I attended who was so full of herself and her abilities (she even advertised her own private website on her acknowledgments slide) that virtually no one was willingly to tell her that her science was shit, her conclusions wrong, and her outlook clouded by her self-assurance. The most cited cause for this lack of critique seemed to be the desire not to damage such a perfect and beautiful ego.



    I honestly wonder if this is the way in which the "real" world deals with macgeek. Such a specimen, that one...



    btw, macgeek, I and the rest of the posters here are very much real and my real-world opinion of you isn't different than my "internet life" opinion. I very much would like to see how you deal with that realization...
  • Reply 17 of 41
    marcukmarcuk Posts: 4,442member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Guybrush Threepwood View Post


    If only you were this sincere with SDW...







    now, that is the definition of douche.



    I think some of you need to look beyond the surface and see the person underneath. Considering what we do know about TheMacHellGeek911, considering his age, considering the upbringing he has had, I think you the rest of you should show some understanding and compassion for the guy, who obviously has had a very different life so far from the most of us, and is making the first steps into a world he has been somewhat sheltered from.



    Maybe, just maybe, underneath that shell of his, that some of you have found annoying, arrogant etc, there is a really great kid, who is a bit scared, a bit naive, who is still formulating the methods of interaction with the world at large.



    I dont think he realised how he was coming across, how people found him annoying, and why there was such hostility towards him. He acted the way he did, because that was what he has been told to do all his life. Now he is thinking for himself. Now he is creating his own self image.



    repeatedly calling him to task, being unpleasant, and sometimes vile, is not helping his 'development', if that what you think he needs.



    He takes notice of the world around him, he is observant and thoughtful. I think once he has taken stock of the 'rules of engagement' with us 'scumbag's - he will be a really great guy to have around.



    SDW on the other hand....
  • Reply 18 of 41
    None of you have a real-world opinion of me, because none of you have met me in person. That's what I meant.



    It just blows my mind how you guys can talk about me the way you do, with no grounding or evidence that anything that you're saying about me is true.



    Assuming that people are feeling pity for me in real life, or not telling me how screwed up I am because they don't want to shatter my fragile ego, or whatever else you guys come up with. It's rediculous. It'll be easy for you guys to now point a finger at me and say "Hah.. he's running away from the truth." But i'm not running away. I'm telling you all that you are full of shit and that you have no idea who I am.



    Marc is the only guy who might actually believe me. I am telling the truth.
  • Reply 19 of 41
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Hellgate I'm with Marc. He sounds like a decent chap.



    BACK ON TOPIC.



    Yes, it is interesting, usually with people I've known for a while I can't really visualize what they look like. I think there's so much variation and maybe so much visual stimulus that we deal with, online and on-the-street...



    The "visual" of a person's face is so not important compared to what their projected identity is, what they are wearing, our preconceptions of them, etc.



    In a big city, remember there is no human way right now to process known or unknown people at the speed and volume we would like to. Therefore the brain, I believe, takes many shortcuts. Not just racial stereotypes but I would say "situational stereotypes".



    In the modern world, for example, just getting on a subway train when you have to be on time for work or something else, requires very rapid mental and physical processing of getting through the gates, waiting, finding your way to the crowd, etc. You also need to rapidly and constantly scan the environment for "event clues". For example, if someone is redirecting you somewhere, you need to evaluate their authority by their uniform, etc. Also you need to scan for physical security, etc.
  • Reply 20 of 41
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by thehellgate911 View Post


    \



    I wasn't even thinking along those lines because I assumed you guys were more mature than this.



    I was not staring at her breasts.



    Can we get on with the topic please?



    edit: To clarify, i've met plenty of girls with big breasts and dull faces, and I can still vividly imagine their faces in my mind. This girl had a unique, pretty face, and small breasts. Regardless, I wasn't staring at them.



    To be honest, I now consider members of the same or opposite sex in more wholistic ways, I know you're talking about the faces more specifically in this case.



    It should be pointed out though as normal mating instinct there are many elements which we "scan" for when dealing with other people, male or female, attractive or not.



    BTW, ignore thread hijackers. AppleInsider attracts these fkers for some reason. Hell, I've been guilty of that sometimes.
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