From Faces to Places

June 7, 2017

Alvar Aalto’s church of the Three Crosses at Imatra, Finland.

Yesterday’s NYT Science page had some exciting news from the neuroscience community. The face recognition neurons in the visual cortex number only about 10,000. Yet only 200 of these are needed to encode data about faces that can be retained in memory for years. Scientists at CalTech have deciphered how the cells work, and were even able to determine which ones were used to construct different parts of a visage. Detailed fMRI scans from macaque monkeys provided the data.

It’s only a matter of time before neuroscientists will find similar features for place cells in the parietal lobes. Experiments are happening today. Three colleagues and I are heading to Stockholm soon to assemble teams of architects and scientists who can address the question of how to measure how humans respond to specific places, and which types of place yield pleasurable responses versus negative ones. Everything we know about the brain suggests that humans evolved to recognize and evaluate places with similar facility to our incredible face recognition systems.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: