Anything interesting in upcoming academic book about face processing?

I’ve had a quick look at an upcoming large academic book about face perception that is currently listed and searchable at the website. The title is Oxford Handbook of Face Perception and it is due for publication this October. For a book of this size and price it looks like there will be surprisingly little in it of interest to me, despite my interest in face recognition and other neuroscience subjects.

It looks like there will be little or no discussion of the subject of synaesthesia in the book, which would be something of an oversight considering that there appears to be a fair amount of evidence supporting the idea that under-connectivity in the brain could be cause of serious deficits in face recognition (prosopagnosia) in at least some cases of prosopagnosia, and under-connectivity could be seen as the opposite of synaesthesia, a harmless neurological condition of which some varieties are associated with increased connectivity in the brain’s white matter. The upcoming book does appear to have some discussion of under-connectivity and prosopagnosia, but it appears nothing much about conditions that can be found the opposite end of the spectrum of face processing ability, things such as super-recognizers and synaesthesia. There is a whole section of the book devoted to disorders including prosopagnosia, while I can find no indication from the contents or searching the text of the book that there will be any coverage of superiority in face recognition. It also appears that there is no coverage of superiority in facial emotion perception. I was recently fascinated to learn that a number of studies have found that superior identification of emotional expressions is associated with some disorders, including borderline personality disorder. As far as I can tell there’s nothing about this in this book. This lack of coverage of superior face perception doesn’t surprise me. I believe that, unless confronted with contrary evidence, most people, including academics and teachers, assume that the clever end of the bell curve is just the result of normal brains that are just lucky enough to have missed out on the types of problems that might impair cognitive performance. If this were true, there wouldn’t be anything terribly interesting to find in studying people who have very high IQs or people who have specific areas of high intellectual ability such as superior interpersonal skills, musical gifts, ease in language learning, impressive calculation abilities or an unusual facility in recognizing faces. If these talents and abilities were just the result of lots of practice and/or a super-normal brain, then these abilities would hardly be worth studying. Of course, we all know that there are some most unusual people who have special gifts, the male autistic or disabled savants that we read about in books by Oliver Sacks, but such people are thought to be rare as hen’s teeth, and kept hidden away.

Everyone knows what a savant is, but no one expects to ever meet one. I think this could be one reason why the teachers from the gifted and talented program that is run through our local government school district thought it was necessary to conduct a talk a few years ago for the parents of gifted students, to explain how these students are often quite different from bright but not gifted students. The teachers introduced us to the concept of asychronous development in gifted children. Gifted children often develop on a schedule that is unique to them and may develop in different domains on very different timetables. We were told that gifted kids can have intellectual, social and emotional development that are at very different stages, and such kids can have uneven levels of achievement across the range of school subjects. There is an obvious similarity between the concepts of asynchronous development in the gifted and the concept of the savant, which is generally thought of as a disabled or autistic person who has one area of cognitive brilliance that contrasts with overall poor performance (the reality of savantism isn’t really this simple). A clear point of distinction between the savant and the gifted child with uneven development is a hard thing to find. Another thing that the parents of the gifted were told that night is that the group of kids who passed the testing to get into the gifted program included some children who were already diagnosed with something from a range of psychiatric diagnoses such as ADHD, Asperger’s Disorder or Autistic Disorder. The gifted aren’t just super-normals. The gifted are unique. The gifted are often different, not just in level of achievement, but in type. Are there more or less synaesthetes among the gifted than we would expect to find, given what we know about the commonality of this interesting neurological condition? I don’t think this has been researched yet. The gifted are different. This is why I believe that there could be a lot of interesting things to find if scientists would study the gifted with as much enthusiasm as they target the deficient. This is why I think it is a pity that in this day and age we have textbooks about reading that have a chapter about dyslexia but nothing about advanced or precocious readers, and door-stopper texts about face perception that appear to ignore super-recognizers and expert emotion-readers. Maybe next decade.


Andy Calder, Gillian Rhodes, Mark Johnson, Jim Haxby Oxford Handbook of Face Perception (Oxford Handbook Series) Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (October 1, 2011)

Tolan, Stephanie Giftedness As Asynchronous Development.

Domes G, Czieschnek D, Weidler F, Berger C, Fast K, Herpertz SC. Recognition of facial affect in Borderline Personality Disorder. Journal of Personality Disorders. 2008 Apr;22(2):135-47.

Fertuck EA, Jekal A, Song I, Wyman B, Morris MC, Wilson ST, Brodsky BS, Stanley B Enhanced ‘Reading the Mind in the Eyes’ in borderline personality disorder compared to healthy controls. Psychological Medicine. 2009 Dec;39(12):1979-88. Epub 2009 May 22.

Wagner AW, Linehan MM. Facial expression recognition ability among women with borderline personality disorder: implications for emotion regulation? Journal of Personality Disorders. 1999 Winter;13(4):329-44.

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  • keh1016  On October 28, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    You brought up faces which was interesting.I have found I recall on not of cue, rather than a spontaneous spark of recognition and my psych teacher said that is the exception. Now, I am currently looking at your Oxford handbook recommendation as we speak. I think savant comes in different forms and I don’t have any proof but I think its when we are very aware, conscious about ourselves and the world around us in the physical sense and switching the signal from left to right brain with more of a sense of purpose and control combined with the fact of personal interest therefore awareness that makes people capable of being savant-like. Basically, a lot of little things overlooked we don’t think about in the subconciousness which is living, breathing, normal and awake for the norm who are savants.

    For example we savants-yes I am getting to my experience shortly are capable of paying attention and producing the same/phenomenal results of the task at hand above average, programming ourselves like computers whether declarative facts such as numbers, words, times in history etc; For one example, I taught myself may different things in this case to super multitask for my psychology class class otherwise I wouldn’t have passed it. I couldn’t count how many different things I was doing at once, taking notes all at once. Had it not been for that I would not have passed the class. Also, I had to write a paper on it-would you believe that? In addition, my psych teacher said that it was difficult not impossible to supermultitask so I guess I was the exception. Glad he didn’t pay too close attention to the fact I was able to do just that lol!

    The next example, of more inner aspects of psychology another experience of finding, realizing, coping, mourning and realizing that I have been verbally abused and emotionally blackmailed by a a covert narccisstic personality for years. I had a hunch this person was and the more I read, the more I was right and I was able to confirm it myself. Thinking of it non biased in different perspectives, I found the personality traits match up and I know how and when they are at work and at home. Also, that person’s mother lost her mother at an early age and later on she paid too much attention to her oldest gifted son which I found made that person feel like not just the youngest child, but the emotionally neglected youngest child-therefore later a narc. I even found proof-a birthday card signed by both relatives which I had a hunch only one of them picked out because it sounded like something that person would say. Later on, they picked out the exact same birthday card again this time signed just that person’s name, exactly who I suspected it was really from, who picked it out before with the card reading, “Love you more than the moon and the stars in the sky…the clothes on your floor”-in regards to that sentiment, gee thanks, party pooper. Now, written proof found 2x and I have never told any of that person’s relatives because they would either be in denial/furious. I wish I had realized this during my class because I could have brought it up to my teacher and figured out how to deal with it sooner. Now, I know people have problems and I am not a psych major/professional but I was able to utilize this skill and coming to realize that I had been living with a dysfunctional personality for years, but wasn’t as obvious because that person was covert, more discreet.Also, I found out even the best of psychologists can overlook and never diagnose Covert narcs more than Overt/obvious narcs Backing away from negative, psychological aspects…

    Now, looking at faces in this case, I’ve taken a few facial recognition tests and they aid I either scored 90% higher than average/90%+ as an individual score. Most recent, I met a guy only once before for a split second and remembered him a few months later when my relative didn’t expect me to and I told that person figured I put it together that was the person mentioned the previous day who they were supposed to be meeting with today had the same name, which was 1/2 the case but I remembered his face.

    Another example of looking at faces in terms of film I have been able track back as far as the 60’s of similar faces. For one example, I found that Liesl from the Sound of Music (1960s) looked like Winona Ryder-Amy Adams with her long-round face. Later, I found that even further she looks like Winona Ryder & Gary Oldman from the much later film made Dracula (1992). I have found many other examples of not just lookalikes of face-even somewhat, but of combined matches of faces over a period of time. I even found that they correlate in terms of time, of recall of faces introduced-combined matches found from 1960s-recent.

    Another unexpected thing which occurred about the time I graduated high school-and feel like I am getting smarter all the time-imagine that lol was my visual memory has developed far back to the point of remembering classmates faces in terms of eiditic memory and comparing them without the yearbook and then looking back finding they would look like someone-not just association of the mind . For one example, I found a young picture of Channing Tatum and realized he looked just like a classmate of mine. Even before that I have found on film who I find many other examples of what two people would look like together. For this, I have even figured out how by looking at the length and width of people’s shapes of face, comparing and combining the difference and seeing altogether who they would look like. I have even found some examples including me such as the previous of Channing Tatum, that my classmate & me together looked like him and another female match, Alison Brie.

    Another example including in this case resulting me, I have posted was later voted about 50/50 Jennifer Lawrence & Josh Hutcherson in terms of resemblance-still waiting for one more vote. As for more examples like that the rest including me, for the most part over 90% have had split 50/50 resemblance of votes whether right away or over time. I have found many more examples of combined face matches besides those whether or not including me. For most recent example, I have found that Emily Blunt & Tom Cruise together look like Eva Green and Shane West. That has been posted, not voted on but has been highly viewed twice so I with that example I do believe that is a future split 50/50 result of poll. Last one, I read a facebook convo b/t friends saying that Emma Watson looks somewhat like I do and I thought-yes and no. Then, I found that Emma Watson looks like me and then she starts to look like Chris Pine. I have more examples of these “Combined matches” at faceshapes 101 at Not that I am soliciting but you can find a bunch of visuals of combined face matches that I have discovered whether or not including me.

    But anyway, just a few examples and not just saying because I am biased being a savant myself. I have found that we are special in our own way but it seems whatever fact we remember and can produce extensively it seems like we are more aware of the facts, seem to be the taken for granted human encyclopedia of certain-many subjects and have brought concepts from subconscious and have brought it to life utilizing them How? For one, all those examples of combined matches of I have checked those associations by looking at the length and width of two individual’s shape and finding they match exactly in the combined face match found. Basically, a little facemath, at work here.

    Even further I have found this useful to disassociate people similar-different in the subconscious-drawing them unintentionally. For one example, I was in the middle of drawing Amanda Seyfried from Mean Girls and found she started to look like Sarah Gadon from the newest Dracula and I thought they look somewhat alike but what is the difference-Amanda starts to look like Andrew Lawrence just the same who also worked with Sarah Gadon in the past. Once I found this out, I disassociated, and draw the person I intended to draw in the first place. I disassociated my made association and found it useful for that and in the future of another example: Sarah Gadon & Andrew Lawrence=Amanda Seyfried.

    Also, the subject of drawing people themselves another phenomena yet to happen-realistic drawn figures. However, in the process along the way I have drawn computer/photoshop-like drawings in the process on the way to realism without being taught the skills. My most recent is a Harry Potter drawn timeline yet to be uploaded and posted. Now, not too long after drawing people a few times filling up my sketchbook I can draw small-big sketches of 1+ people in 10-15 minutes minimum to less-a little over an hour maximum including the background using one dull 2b pencil. Whereas before I started out drawing “Non-objective, surreal drawings”-not on intention of course.

    Also, other people reading these savant experiences whether or not research may be thinking, “Did this person get a bump on the head”? In this case, should not add insult to injury at all but no I have not and had more than one savant experience, am totally aware and have found reason behind it. The only thing missing, yet to be done is telling someone in my family about it-about the faces part anyway. It’s one thing to bring up lookalikes its another to say I have found how many combined matches of examples even including me.

    Thank you for sharing the experiences, bringing up the faces part, the recommendation and also I had share this with another fellow savant. Good luck to your blog and I hope you reply soon. Thanks for listening and for posting.

  • keh1016  On October 28, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    Also, rereading your article I think people don’t meet savants as often as suspected because they choose to keep it under-wraps just as Superecognizers pretend to not remember a face. Thinking about it similar circumstance of phenomena and it makes sense.

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