Mental representations of familiar faces

A. Mike Burton, Rob Jenkins, Stefan R. Schweinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Citations (Scopus)


The Bruce and Young (1986) framework makes a number of important distinctions between the types of representation needed to recognize a familiar face. Here, we return to these, focussing particularly on face recognition units. We argue that such representations need to incorporate idiosyncratic within-person variability, asking questions such as 'What counts as a picture of Harrison Ford?'. We describe a mechanism for achieving this, and discuss the relation between image variability and episodic face memories, in the context of behavioural and neurophysiological data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-958
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date14 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011


  • event-related potentials
  • person recognition
  • brain potentials
  • unfamiliar faces
  • geometric distortions
  • stimulus repetitions
  • processing stages
  • name recognition
  • neural system
  • perception


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