Study finds that the same face may look male or female

November 24, 2010

Neuroscientists at MIT and Harvard have made the surprising discovery that the brain sees some faces as male when they appear in one area of a person’s field of view, but female when they appear in a different location.

The findings challenge a longstanding tenet of neuroscience — how the brain sees an object should not depend on where the object is located relative to the observer, says Arash Afraz, a postdoctoral associate at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research and lead author of a new paper on the work. “It’s the kind of thing you would not predict — that you would look at two identical faces and think they look different,” says Afraz, who is a postdoc in James DiCarlo's lab. He and two colleagues from Harvard, Patrick Cavanagh and Maryam Vaziri Pashkam, described their findings in the Nov. 24 online edition of the journal Current Biology. Read More...