Maria Ida Gobbini

Maria Ida Gobbini

University of Bologna, Italy

Maria Ida Gobbini

Description of the general focus of the symposium "Face Perception and its application in audiovisual integration"

The system for perception in the human brain is innate. Infants have a preference for upright faces within days from birth. Recognition of human faces is crucial for survival, while recognition of closely related people also activates systems for emotion recognition, person knowledge, and theory of mind areas in the brain. Face perception can be a useful tool to investigate visual recognition phenomena in audiovisual context. This session will consist of the main talk by Prof. Maria Ida Gobbini from the University of Bologna, in which the main aspects of face perception will be reported, with an emphasis on familiar people recognition. The first early-career researcher, dr Ilona Kotlewska will present her original research on own-face recognition and the related theta activity in human visual cortex. Next, dr hab. Przemysław Tomalski and dr Maria Nalberczak will present their research with usage of face recognition in audiovisual research on infants and schizophrenic patients. The last space in this symposium stays empty for a pre-doctoral student speaker.

Talk: "The use of naturalistic stimuli to investigate the neural mechanisms for face perception and 

Prof. Gobbini investigates face perception, and individual differences in cognition with potential application in diagnosis and treatment. She has conducted psychophysics and neuroimaging research to investigate the effect of learning associated with face familiarity, the neural correlates of face recognition, representation of familiar others, and the role played by retrieval of person knowledge.

For decades the face perception system has been investigated with well-controlled stimuli that are still images of strangers’ faces limiting the potentiality of characterizing such system in all its complexity. 
My talk will focus on two major points: the use of naturalistic stimuli to investigate the neural system for face perception and the use of familiar faces to better depict the individual components of this system. 
I will present fMRI data collected during movie viewing that were used to estimate multiple category-selective topographies including the face selective topography preserving the idiosyncracies of each individual functional brain architecture. I will highlight also how, through the use of naturalistic stimuli, we have shown that, so far, the human face perception system cannot be fully modelled by the state-of-the-art DCNNs.
Recognition of familiar faces is remarkably effortless and robust. Automatic activation of knowledge about familiar individuals and the emotional responses play crucial roles in familiar face recognition. I will present data that show how familiarity affects the earliest stages of face processing to facilitate rapid, even preconscious detection of these highly socially salient stimuli, and present data that support the hypothesis that representation of personally familiar faces develops in a hierarchical fashion through the engagement of multiple levels in the distributed neural system from early visual processes to higher level of social cognition and emotion.

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