Whether it’s the person who can recognise someone they walked past on holiday five years ago or the man who can pass his wife in the street without even recognising her; these two extremes of face recognition will be put to the test as part of a special study currently being carried out by University of East London scientists.
The Familiar Faces study, which is taking place in the Science Museum and has been funded by the Wellcome Trust, is a free and safe test open to anyone over the age of seven years old. The study will give academics a practical and invaluable insight into how face recognition abilities can differ so dramatically in people.
Led by Dr Ashok Jansari from the School of Psychology at UEL, the team will carry out a number of simple tests with participants to assess their face recognition abilities. Through this study, participants will find out if they are indeed a super recogniser – an individual who is extremely good at recognising the face of a person they have barely looked at.
The test will also pinpoint any people who might be suffering from a rare condition called prosopagnosia – commonly known as face-blindness. This condition leaves the individual with little to no ability in recognising the faces of people – even immediate family members – and makes them reliant on other identifying features, such as a person’s voice or an item of clothing.
Speaking at the launch of the landmark study, Dr Jansari said: “This is a really exciting study and one that has already captured the public’s imagination at the Science Museum. We know there are people out there who can instantly recognise and place someone they walked past on a beach five years ago. At the same time, we also know there are some who unfortunately cannot recognise the faces of people they come into regular contact every day.
“I would really encourage people to come along and join in. By taking part, you will play a vital role in helping researchers better understand the complexities of face recognition.”
The study is taking place between 11.00am and 5.00pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in the Wellcome wing of the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, SW7 2DD, until Friday, 6 January. Parents or a legal guardian need to accompany anyone under the 18 of age wishing to take part. They will also need to provide written consent.
For further information, visit www.superrecognizers.com
The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with over 28,000 students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.