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Frontiers in Human Neuroscience


Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences


Faces are probably the most widely studied visual stimulus. Most research on face processing has used a group-mean approach that averages behavioral or neural responses to faces across individuals and treats variance between individuals as noise. However, individual differences in face processing can provide valuable information that complements and extends findings from group-mean studies. Here we demonstrate that studies employing an individual differences approach—examining associations and dissociations across individuals—can answer fundamental questions about the way face processing operates. In particular these studies allow us to associate and dissociate the mechanisms involved in face processing, tie behavioral face processing mechanisms to neural mechanisms, link face processing to broader capacities and quantify developmental influences on face processing. The individual differences approach we illustrate here is a powerful method that should be further explored within the domain of face processing as well as fruitfully applied across the cognitive sciences.