Face recognition is a popular field of research in many domains due to the salience and ubiquitousness of faces in the visual world. Face perception has been studied from a wide variety of disciplines ranging from neurology, psychiatry, psychology and genetics to computational sciences and mathematics, yet continues to remain at the forefront of cognitive research. The inability to recognise the facial expressions of others and even the identity of close relatives is a common symptom in individuals suffering from schizophrenia. The aim of the current research is to investigate the nature of face processing in schizophrenia and to develop a novel model of face processing derived from a fusion of current theories and evidence, which will be analyzed from a neurofunctional viewpoint. This model will be characterised as interdisciplinary, taking into consideration knowledge and elements from computational neuroscience, neuropsychology, psychophysics and neurophysiological data. The proposed model should be testable through experimentation and maintain coherence with empirical evidence and our current understanding of brain mechanisms.The project is divided into two sections: the first section examines the deficit in face processing found in schizophrenia and aims to describe this deficit in terms of the encoding of different forms of visual information. The second section proposes the development of a novel model of face processing in light of recent empirical evidence from cognitive science including new contributions from schizophrenia research. The methodology and infrastructure of the project are discussed with respect to their theoretical and experimental contexts. Finally, improved strategies for the treatment and diagnosis of schizophrenia, and the production of a more fully-integrated account of face processing in humans are predicted as some of the key outcomes from this project.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: