[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We present an automatic face verification system inspired by known properties of biological systems. In the proposed algorithm the whole image is converted from the spatial to polar frequency domain by a Fourier-Bessel Transform (FBT). Using the whole image is compared to the case where only face image regions (local analysis) are considered. The resulting representations are embedded in a dissimilarity space, where each image is represented by its distance to all the other images, and a Pseudo-Fisher discriminator is built. Verification test results on the FERET database showed that the local-based algorithm outperforms the global-FBT version. The local-FBT algorithm performed as state-of-the-art methods under different testing conditions, indicating that the proposed system is highly robust for expression, age, and illumination variations. We also evaluated the performance of the proposed system under strong occlusion conditions and found that it is highly robust for up to 50% of face occlusion. Finally, we automated completely the verification system by implementing face and eye detection algorithms. Under this condition, the local approach was only slightly superior to the global approach.