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Consumer Reports

Car buffs have mental traffic jams | (UPI) -- Car buffs can experience mental traffic jams when looking at autos and faces simultaneously, say Vanderbilt scientists.

It appears they recognize their cars with the special part of the brain that also is used to identify faces and when they try to identify cars and faces at the same time, they experience a kind of perceptual gridlock.

The Vanderbilt team, with help from colleagues at the University of Colorado at Boulder, compared how the brains of auto experts and novices process pictures of cars and faces.

They found viewing cars elicits signals from the brains of car experts that are just like the signals evoked by viewing faces in other brains.

Moreover, the experts' skill interfered with their ability to identify faces when they were forced to process cars and faces simultaneously.

The findings challenge the widely held view a small, specialized area in the brain is specially hardwired to recognize faces.

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