We first recognize familiar faces with our limbic system

This 2015 Belgian human study found:

“Medial temporal lobe structures (perirhinal cortex, amygdala, hippocampus) and anterior inferior temporal cortex responded abruptly when sufficient information for familiar face recognition was accumulated.

Activation in ventral occipitotemporal face-preferential regions increased with visual information, independently of long-term face familiarity.

[The researchers] isolated the discriminative neural responses to unfamiliar and familiar faces by slowly increasing visual information (i.e., high-spatial frequencies) to progressively reveal faces of unfamiliar or personally familiar individuals.”

A limitation of the study was, however:

“Behavioral data were acquired from only 11 subjects because of a technical error.”

http://www.pnas.org/content/112/35/E4835.full “Neural microgenesis of personally familiar face recognition”

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