ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (11): 1952-1960.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2018.01952

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Face pareidolia and its neural mechanism

WANG Hao, YANG Zhigang()   

  1. College of Education, Hebei University, Baoding 071002 China
  • Received:2017-11-29 Online:2018-11-15 Published:2018-09-26
  • Contact: Zhigang YANG


Face pareidolia refers to the compelling illusion of perceiving facial features on inanimate objects, such as an illusory face on the moon surface. Both top-down and bottom-up factors can modulate the occurrence of face pareidolia. In recent years, many studies using behavioral, brain imaging, as well as EEG techniques have been devoted to investigating its influential factors. It was found that the occurrence of face pareidolia depends on whether the stimuli contain face-like structures, whether the internal face template can match the current stimulus, and whether or not there are face related backgrounds. It was also influenced by individual differences and observers’ emotional states. Brain imaging studies suggest that information from the frontal and occipital vision regions can be infused at the fusiform face area (FFA) when experiencing face pareidolia. Future research should focus on exploring the behavioral and neural mechanisms of individual differences in face pareidolia, as well as the interactions and neural mechanisms between different types of top-down modulation.

Key words: face pareidolia, top-down processing, bottom-up processing, face processing

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