Car lovers may not only treat their cars like humans, but they may recognize them in the same part of the brain that identifies the human face. And when these aficionados try to recognize a car and a face at the same time, their minds get stuck in a mental traffic jam.
A study in the journal Nature Neuroscience challenged the notion that a small specialized part of the brain is wired to recognize only faces. Instead, that brain region can be used to recognize other objects of familiarity.
For the study, 20 car lovers and 20 car novices were shown a series of images, alternating between cars and faces. They found that car lovers remembered the sequence of cars, but failed to recall the names of faces. Car novices did not have the same difficulty because they were not identifying cars with the same part of the brain that recognizes faces.