This activity is called Make A Face. The human brain recognizes the faces of other people by remembering the particular arrangement of their eyes, mouth and nose on the surface of their face. The brain identifies these features of the face and it also searches for the correct spacing in between them. The area within the brain that manages this function is called the fusiform face area. The fusiform face area is constantly searching for facial features. This is why people can perceive what looks like a human face in things like clouds, rock formations and other everyday objects. In the Make A Face activity, the user is shown a blank square, like a blank canvas. They are also shown images of the following everyday objects: apple, boomerang, snake, round breakfast cereal piece, feather, one toy jax, taco, tree leaf, balloon, skateboard, daisy blossom, drinking straw, spoon, starfish and bicycle tire. The user can move these images into the blank square area and arrange them to build what looks like a face. For example, the user may take two round bicycle tires and place them on the same level horizontally to represent eyes. Then they may take the tree leaf and place it in the space below the bicycle tires, and centered in between them, to represent a nose. Then they may take the taco and place it in the space directly below the tree leaf to represent a mouth. Although the arrangement is made up of images of two bicycle tires, a tree leaf and a taco, the human brain recognizes it as representing a face. Any similar arrangement, made with any of the everyday object images, would appear to form a face.

You look so familiar…

How do we recognize people? How do we remember the particular arrangement of their eyes, mouth, and nose? It all happens in the fusiform face area (FFA). This is where our brain identifies different parts of the face and also searches for the correct spacing between parts.

Scientists were able to pinpoint the FFA by studying a disorder called prosopagnosia. People with prosopagnosia cannot identify faces—even their own children, spouses, or parents.

The fusiform face area is always searching for facial features. That’s why we “see” faces in clouds, rock formations, and everyday objects.