Revealed: How we recognise friends among strangers
Finding your lost friend in a crowded place is a difficult task, but your brain makes it simpler through its capacity of paying special attention to objects, a research has found.
Picking out a face in the crowd is a complicated because the brain has to retrieve the memory of the face you're seeking, then hold it in place while scanning the crowd, paying special attention to finding a match, said the study.
The process of identifying an object is similar to finding out what is happening is a place, the finding showed.
Both object-based attention and spatial attention have similar mechanisms involving related brain regions.
"It seems like it's a parallel process involving different areas," said Robert Desimone, director of McGovern Institute for Brain Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In both cases, the prefrontal cortex - the control center for most cognitive functions - appears to take charge of the brain's attention and control relevant parts of the visual cortex, which receives sensory input, the study said.
For this study, the researchers used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to scan human subjects as they viewed a series of overlapping images of faces and houses.
The study appeared in the journal Science.
(Posted on 11-04-2014)