From pixels to people: A model of familiar face recognition

A. Mike Burton*, Vicki Bruce, P. J.B. Hancock

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

280 Citations (Scopus)


Research in face recognition has largely been divided between those projects concerned with front-end image processing and those projects concerned with memory for familiar people. These perceptual and cognitive programmes of research have proceeded in parallel, with only limited mutual influence. In this paper we present a model of human face recognition which combines both a perceptual and a cognitive component. The perceptual front-end is based on principal components analysis of face images, and the cognitive back-end is based on a simple interactive activation and competition architecture. We demonstrate that this model has a much wider predictive range than either perceptual or cognitive models alone, and we show that this type of combination is necessary in order to analyse some important effects in human face recognition. In sum, the model takes varying images of "known" faces and delivers information about these people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-31
Number of pages31
JournalCognitive Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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