Monday, December 5, 2011

Facial recognition is wholistic

This blog has been on hiatus as I've been dealing with a body-hostile healthcare system, insurance sociopaths and delusionally self-infatuated doctors, and I didn't want to take it out on the science.

This charming study turned up today and led me back here:

'ScienceDaily (2011-12-02) -- "Face recognition is an important social skill, but not all of us are equally good at it," says a cognitive psychologist. But what accounts for the difference? A new study provides the first experimental evidence that the inequality of abilities is rooted in the unique way in which the mind perceives faces.'

The brain uses a wholistic method for recognizing faces, whereas recognizing objects is more analytical -- meaning that the object is parsed out by the brain and assessed in chunks. Doesn't work well on faces, though.

One very pleasing, intelligent thing to note: these researchers concluded that the logical next step is to train people to use their brains more effectively -- not to look for yet another drug to fiddle with one part of a complex process and leave the patient more helpless than before.

My own facial recognition has plummeted with the evolution of CRPS, but it's a skill I acquired rather late in life. I'd always recognized people by the way they held themselves and moved -- a different region of the brain entirely. So I trained myself to recognize faces as such.

I'm not sure I could recapture that ability, but when a few other mental faculties are more predictable, I'm game to try.

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