School of Psychology Colloquium 1

Event Name
School of Psychology Colloquium 1
8 February 2023
12:00 pm - 01:30 pm

Address (Room): Zoom details to be sent on registration



One face, many functions: Critical information thresholds for generic and familiar face recognition at the same encounter

Presentation summary:

Faces hold exceptional status in the human brain, conveying a great deal of meaningful social information that is recognised nearly effortlessly by neurotypical adults. Yet the ease with which we perceive faces belies the multifaceted nature of this brain function, which in fact comprises a heterogeneous set of processes that culminate in distinct categorisations of a face’s category, sex, emotion, familiarity, identity, and more.

Remarkably, these various high-level recognition functions appear to be evoked automatically at every face encounter, such that to see a face is to almost instantaneously ‘recognise’ it in a multitude of ways. Characterising how different dimensions of face processing relate to each other is a core challenge for modern face perception research – one that requires a shift away from overt categorisations of faces, which necessarily apply to just a single dimension at a time (e.g.,“is it a male or female face?” vs. “Is it a famous face?”).

In this talk, I consider the question of how the brain extracts information along different face dimensions at the same encounter, presenting a series of experiments that quantify generic and individual face recognition signals using frequency-tagged electrophysiological responses. Results suggest that at a given face encounter, the information requirements of generic face recognition (i.e., recognising a face as a face) are lower than those of familiar face recognition. These findings provide direct empirical evidence for the frequent claim that category ‘precedes’ identity in the face perception hierarchy.


Dr Quek graduated in 2015 with a combined PhD / Master of Clinical Neuropsychology from Macquarie University. She has extensive experience in continuous behavioural methods, and trained extensively in leading European cognitive neuroscience labs to build deep expertise in advanced electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetoencephalography (MEG). She joined MARCS as a Research Fellow in 2021.

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Speakers: Genevieve L. Quek

Web page:

Name: Sue Veen

Phone: 02 4736 0077

School / Department: School of Psychology