Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Can't recognise faces? Don't worry you're not stupid

Being able to recognise people's faces is an important skill to have but not everyone is as skilled as others at it. Some people can recognise someone they met briefly years ago while others struggle to recognise even close friends and family. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Beijing Normal University looked into these variations in a study of 102 pairs of identical twins and 71 pairs of non-identical ones. Identical twins share all the same genes and non-identical ones share 50% of genes so twin studies are a good way of seeing what contributions genes make to a particular trait or condition. The participants were tested on their ability to remember and recognise faces they had been shown for a second. The study found that 39% of the variation in people's ability to recognise faces was due to genetic factors. There was no link between the ability to recognise faces and sharpness of vision, general object recognition abilities, memory or other cognitive abilities. In another study of 321 students the researchers found that the ability to recognise faces was not linked to IQ.

You can find out more about this research at

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