Haptic face processing.
We present an overview of a new multidisciplinary research program that focuses on haptic processing of human facial identity and facial expressions of emotion. A series of perceptual and neuroscience experiments with live faces and/or rigid three-dimensional facemasks is outlined. To date, several converging methodologies have been adopted: behavioural experimental studies with neurologically intact participants, neuropsychological behavioural research with prosopagnosic individuals, and neuroimaging studies using fMRI techniques. In each case, we have asked what would happen if the hands were substituted for the eyes. We confirm that humans can haptically determine both identity and facial expressions of emotion in facial displays at levels well above chance. Clearly, face processing is a bimodal phenomenon. The processes and representations that underlie such patterns of behaviour are also considered.