Famous Faces Activate More Parts Of The Brain

Petersen then obtained fMRI images while nine other volunteers tried to memorize both the famous and unfamiliar faces for a subsequent test. The images showed that part of the right frontal lobe became active when the subjects viewed unfamiliar faces, as in the previous study. But famous faces activated both the right and left frontal lobes. In the subsequent memory test, the volunteers found it easier to remember having seen a face before if it was famous.

"These results suggest that activation patterns do not depend solely on the type of material used but rather reflect the types of information available for encoding such materials," says Kelley.

"It also suggests that it's a good idea to pay attention to someone's name as well as their face when you're introduced to them," Petersen adds.

Kelley will present his findings at 1:45 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday, Nov. 9, in Petree Hall D at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The Charles A. Dana Foundation and Washington University's McDonnell Center for Higher Brain Function supported this research.


Contact: Linda Sage
Washington University School of Medicine

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