Nestor, A., Lee, A.C.H., Plaut, D.C., and Behrmann, M. (2020). The face of image reconstruction: Progress, pitfalls, prospects. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 29, 747-759. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2020.06.006

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Abstract: Recent research has demonstrated that neural and behavioral data acquired in response to viewing face images can be used to reconstruct the images themselves. However, the theoretical implications, promises, and challenges of this direction of research remain unclear. We evaluate the potential of this research for elucidating the visual representations underlying face recognition. Specifically, we outline complementary and converging accounts of the visual content, the representational structure, and the neural dynamics of face processing. We illustrate how this research addresses fundamental questions in the study of normal and impaired face recognition, and how image reconstruction provides a powerful framework for uncovering face representations, for unifying multiple types of empirical data, and for facilitating both theoretical and methodological progress.

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