Michal Bernstein Eliav

Michal Bernstein Eliav, Ph.D.

Former student at Prof. Galit Yovel's laboratory

Research title
The role of dynamic information in face processing.

Research project

The neural basis of face processing has been extensively studied in the past two decades, primarily in studies that presented static face images. However, in everyday life faces are usually seen in motion. I am investigating the processing and neural representation of dynamic faces (i.e., faces in motion).

Faces are known to elicit highly selective neural responses in the occipital-temporal part of the brain. The most dominant model of face processing, suggested by Haxby and colleagues (Haxby, Hoffman, & Gobbini, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2000), dissociates the face selective regions into a ventral stream which is engaged in the processing of invariant facial aspects, such as face identity, and a dorsal stream which is engaged in the processing of changeable facial aspects, such as facial expression. However, many recent studies have shown evidence for expression processing also in the ventral face areas. Furthermore, most studies so far have been conducted with static images of faces. Thus, current models of face processing should be re-evaluated and expended to account also for the processing of dynamic faces.

I use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the function of the face-processing neural network in extracting dynamic and static information from different facial aspects, namely changeable and invariant aspects. In line with preview studies (e.g. Pitcher, Dilks, Saxe, Triantafyllou, & Kanwisher, NeuroImage, 2011) I show that the dorsal face areas are more sensitive than the ventral ones to dynamic information from faces. Therefore, I suggest an alternative neural model of face perception, emphasizing the dissociation between dynamic (i.e. motion) and static (i.e. form) information, rather than changeable and invariant aspects, as the primary functional division between the dorsal and ventral pathways.


  • Talk- Human Brain Project Education Workshop 2014, Tel-Aviv, Israel.

  • Talk- Israel Society for Cognitive Psychology Annual Meeting 2014, Akko, Israel.

  • Poster- Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting 2013, Naples, Florida.

  • Poster- Israel Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting 2012, Eilat, Israel.

  • 2015 – Poster, Society for Neuroscience, Chicago, Illinois.

  • 2015 – Poster, Cambridge Neuroscience Symposium, Cambridge, UK.

  • 2015 – Poster, Person Recognition Conference, Jerusalem, Israel.

  • 2016 – Talk, Israel Society for Cognitive Psychology Annual Meeting, Akko, Israel.

  • 2016 – Poster, Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting, St. Pete, Florida.


  • Bernstein M, Oron J, Sadeh B, Yovel G. An integrated face-body representation in the fusiform gyrus but not the lateral occipital cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 2014;26(11):2469-2478.

  • Yovel G, Bernstein M. Extracting social information from faces: The role of static and dynamic face information. In Brain Mapping: An Encyclopedic Reference. Editor Arthur W. Toga. 2014.

  • Bernstein M, Yovel G. Two neural pathways of face processing: A critical evaluation of current models. Submitted to Neuroscience & Behavioral Reviews.


  • Lautman Excellence Scholarship, 2009-2012, Tel-Aviv University, Israel.

  • Travel Award from Adams Super Center for Brain Studies, Tel-Aviv University.

    Excellence Scholarship, 2013, Faculty for Social Science, Tel-Aviv University.

    Excellence scholarship for winning posters contest, 2013, School of Psychological Science, Tel-Aviv University.

    Dean excellence, 2010-2011, Tel-Aviv University.

    Dean excellence, 2009-2010, Tel-Aviv University.

    Rector excellence, 2009-2010, Tel-Aviv University.

    Excellence scholarship for winning biology contest for under-graduates, 2004, Bar-Ilan University, Israel.

    2015 – Travel award from the National Institute of Psychobiology, Israel.

    2015 – Travel award in memory of Prof. Shlomo Bentin, International Neuropsychological Society, Israel.

    2015 – Daniel Turnberg Travel Fellowship for research collaboration in the UK.

    2016 – The David and Paulina Trotsky Foundation Award for excellence.


Research Categories: Cognitive neuroscience

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