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- Jan 2018
Even the simple act which we describe as "seeing some one we know" is, to some extent, an intellectual process. We pack the physical outline of the creature we see with all the ideas we have already formed about him, and in the complete picture of him which we compose in our minds those ideas have certainly the principal place. In the end they come to fill out so completely the curve of his cheeks, to follow so exactly the line of his nose, they blend so harmoniously in the sound of his voice that these seem to be no more than a transparent envelope, so that each time we see the face or hear the voice it is our own ideas of him which we recognise and to which we listen.
There is some evidence, though it's not universally accepted, that we have a single neuron for people we know well. Participants in a study had a single neuron that would consistently fire when shown an image of their grandmother and a different one when shown a image of Halle Berry. Psychologists wonder how we can still easily recognize people after they get a dramatic hair cut or something as one would think they would no longer fit our mental image of them.