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Unstrange Phenomena

29 April 2009

Brain: Some insight into why it's harder to recognize different-age faces

From Denny: Yesterday on Cognitive Daily I left this comment on their post "Super-recognizers: people with an amazing ability to recognize faces."

"Looks like I got all the faces: X is recognizable by his eyes and that half-sour "I'm uncomfortable" half-smile, Bill Clinton by his cheekbones in relation to his smile, Scarlett recognized by her serious pout and Wayne by his eyes like half-closed (what some people call bedroom eyes) and how he tilts his head.

Actors Jeff and Beau Bridges have that head-tilting characteristic in their body language too. When I saw an actor recently (passing by the TV on my way out) who displayed their same facial expressions and body language but looked very different. I asked my husband if he was related to the Bridges family and he replied, Yeah, that's Jordon Bridges. Some people, especially leaders in any field, develop a distinctive combination of expressions that are unique to them and easy to remember.

Posted by: Denny Lyon | April 27, 2009 5:38 PM"

Some insight into why it's harder to recognize different-age faces

Today's post and link is the follow-up to yesterdays' post about the "super recognizers." The current studies are examining as to why this happens. Mainly, there is still a lot of speculation and even more questions than answers.

Questions on deck:

Are people better at recognizing others of the same race?

Are people better at recognizing others of the same age?

Speculative answers:

Several studies have now revealed that others are better at recognizing those who look like themselves compared to those who are different, meaning same-race and same-age are the strongest factors for recognition. Same-race has been studied the most.

Questions as to what causes this type of recognition:
Are we better at recognizing people we see more often?

Do we have a separate process for recognizing those inside our group as opposed to those outside it?

Are we more adept at recognizing the faces of our loved ones and friends?

Answers from a study of non-teachers and teacher trainees:

In a recent study of non-teachers and teacher trainees they found the trainees were more adept at recognizing the kids' faces. Researchers realized that age-related differences in facial recognition are not due to any inside or outside group preference. Actually, teachers still recognize childrens' faces better than adults of their own age.

Researchers' Speculations

Researchers are postulating that the teachers are more motivated to recognize the kids so that may account for their success as well as constant exposure to that age group makes recognition easier than for others. Researchers are going to study both suggestions to see if one or the other is true - or if both suggestions are contributing factors.

Read that as they think they know why this facial recognition happens but they "will get back to you after it's official" - an official study, that is! :)

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