Tag Archives: Ashok Jansari

Investigating the minds of six supers

Do you have “enhanced generalised visuo-cognitive or socio-emotional processes”, or “enhanced holistic processing”? Personal questions, I know.

I’ve got to admit I enjoy reading research reports about mental processes that work well, sound skills, the right-hand reach of the bell curve in ability, that kind of thing. There are thousands and thousands of journal papers and case studies and reviews of research on illness, disability, morbidity, insanity, disease, abnormality, impairment etc. I know it is all important, but also a bit depressing. Doesn’t it make sense that if you want to figure out how something works, you study exemplars that work really well, or perform one task really well, as well as ones that don’t? It makes sense to me.

Bobak, A. K., Bennetts, R. J., Parris, B. A., Jansari, A., & Bate, S. (2016). An In-depth Cognitive Examination of Individuals with Superior Face Recognition Skills. Cortex. In Press. Available online 15 May 2016.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0010945216301186

 

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Recent online articles about super recognizers, and a link to a test

Madhumita Venkataramanan’s article for the BBC (third down) is well worth your reading time. I wonder whether Madhumita might have read my tips for acing or gunning tests of face memory?

UK Cops Using Gifted ‘Super Recognizers’ to Fight Crime

Cathy Burke Newsmax.com

http://www.newsmax.com/International/super-recognizers-facial-recognition-London-Metropolitan-Police-world/2015/06/16/id/650791/#ixzz3dKPCFmgR

‘Super recognisers’ used by the police to identify criminals and spot offenders in crowds

Alexandra Sims

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/super-recognisers-used-by-the-police-to-identify-criminals-and-spot-offenders-in-crowds-10324186.html

The superpower police now use to tackle crime.

Madhumita Venkataramanan

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150611-the-superpower-police-now-use-to-tackle-crime

Are You a Super Recognizer? Test Tells If You’re One of Elite Few Who Never Forgets a Face

Korin Miller

https://www.yahoo.com/health/are-you-a-super-recognizer-test-tells-if-youre-121678964207.html

This Fun Memory Quiz Will Tell You If You Are a ‘Super Recognizer’

Christina Oehler

http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/wellness/a50913/this-fun-memory-quiz-will-tell-you-if-you-super-recognizer/

Testa dig: Hur bra är du på att känna igen ansikten?
Fredrik Claesson

http://pcforalla.idg.se/2.1054/1.631410/kan-du-identifiera-ansiktet

Are YOU a ‘super recogniser’? Take the test to see if you are one of an elite group of people who never forget a face

Ellie Zolfagharifard

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3125173/Are-super-recogniser-test-one-elite-group-people-rarely-forgets-face.html#ixzz3dKS4frpz

Could you be a super-recogniser? (test)

University of Greenwich

 

https://greenwichuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_e3xDuCccGAdgbfT

 

Are super-recognizers rarities or just uncommon?

Jaslow, Ryan London police using 200 super-recognizers: What makes them “super”?. CBS News. September 27th 2013. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57605067/london-police-using-200-super-recognizers-what-makes-them-super/

Superrecognition researcher Prof. Richard Russell interviewed, estimates super-recognizers are 1 in 1,000.

 

Buckland, Danny Police officers’ superhuman ability to recognise faces is being used to fight crime. Express. September 1st 2013.  http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/426014/Police-officers-superhuman-ability-to-recognise-faces-is-being-used-to-fight-crime

Super-recognizer researcher Dr Ashok Jansari quoted as sharing his belief that super-recognizers are 1% (1 in 100) of the population.

 

Gaidos, Susan Familiar faces. Science News.  Web edition August 23rd 2013, Print edition September 7th 2013. Volume 184 Number 5 p.16. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/352687/description/Familiar_faces

“Though studies of super recognizers are just getting under way, findings suggest that about 1 percent of people are super recognizers.”

 

Davis, J.P., Lander, K., and Jansari, A. I never forget a face. Psychologist. October 2013. 26(10), 726-729. http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=26&editionID=231&ArticleID=2347

“The results from the study are being prepared for publication, but preliminary results showed that on the CFMT, there was a roughly normal distribution with fewer than 10 individuals scoring within the ‘superrecognition’ criteria of two standard deviations above the mean established by Russell et al. (2009). These results therefore support the suggestions of Russell et al., that less than 2 per cent of the population may be classified as superrecognisers.”

and how common is the opposite condition, prosopagnosia?

“The prevalence of developmental prosopagnosia in the population may be 2 per cent (Kennerknecht et al., 2006),…”

 

 

Which is superior, human super-recognizers or facial recognition software?

The unit proved especially valuable after riots hit London in the summer of 2011. After the violence, Scotland Yard combed through hundreds of hours of surveillance video. So far, there have been nearly 5,000 arrests; around 4,000 of those were based on police identifications of suspects from video images. The super recognizers were responsible for nearly 30 percent of the identifications, including one officer who identified almost 300 people. A facial recognition software program made only one successful identification, according to Neville.

and another quote

But Brad Duchaine of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., a psychologist who has published on super recognizers, said he thinks the London police approach makes sense. “People are much better at facial recognition than software (is), so using people is a very reasonable thing to do,” Duchaine said.

AP London police use super recognizers to fight crime. Times of India. September 28th 2013. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/London-police-use-super-recognizers-to-fight-crime/articleshow/23191190.cms

Here’s another quote from another super-recognizer researcher in another article

“The human brain is probably the most complex computer and we do not know of a single computer that can recognise faces as quickly as a human can,” adds Dr Jansari.

Buckland, Danny Police officers’ superhuman ability to recognise faces is being used to fight crime. Express. September 1st 2013. http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/426014/Police-officers-superhuman-ability-to-recognise-faces-is-being-used-to-fight-crime

Here’s a similar quote to another, but from a different article

The super-recognisers were responsible for  nearly 30 per cent of the identifications, including one officer who found around 300 people. However a facial recognition program made  only one successful identification.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2435043/Scotland-Yards-elite-squad-200-super-recognisers-forget-face.html#ixzz2gFVaYvGl Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Camber, Rebecca The man who NEVER forgets the face: How Scotland Yard’s elite squad of 200 ‘super recognisers’ can spot a suspect in a crowd. MailOnline. Daily Mail. September 27th
2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2435043/Scotland-Yards-elite-squad-200-super-recognisers-forget-face.html#ixzz2gFQzxiVF

A spate of science news and newspaper stories about super-recognizers

The Psychologist (sadly behind paywall) – http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=26&editionID=231&ArticleID=2347

Associated Press / Canada.com – http://www.canada.com/health/Dont+know+London+polices+super+recognizers+have+before+answer/8965531/story.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+canwest%2FF67+(canada.com+Body+and+Health)

Science News – http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/352687/description/Familiar_faces

The Times of India – http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/London-police-use-super-recognizers-to-fight-crime/articleshow/23191190.cms

Daily Mail – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2435043/Scotland-Yards-elite-squad-200-super-recognisers-forget-face.html

Express – http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/426014/Police-officers-superhuman-ability-to-recognise-faces-is-being-used-to-fight-crime

CBS News – http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57605067/london-police-using-200-super-recognizers-what-makes-them-super/

The Verge – http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/27/4778376/super-recognizers-are-scotland-yards-new-secret-weapon

The Windsor Star – http://www.windsorstar.com/know+London+police+squad+elite+super+recognizers+concept/8971850/story.html

MinnPost – http://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2013/08/super-recognizers-people-who-never-forget-face

Daily Herald – http://www.heraldextra.com/lifestyles/remembering-faces/article_f8985c6e-9a33-577e-9748-81799788db80.html

Monterey Herald – http://www.montereyherald.com/news/ci_24188786/10-things-know-friday-sept-27

Ad Hoc News – http://www.ad-hoc-news.de/about-200-london-police-officers-have-been-recruited-for-an–/de/News/32088649

WNAX – http://wnax.com/news/10-for-today-friday-sept-27/

But will it ever catch on in Australia? Nah!

Do you speak German?

If you can understand German and wish to learn more about super-recognition and policing you will probably find this video highly educational. It’s pretty interesting even if you have to guess at the commentary. One bit of English that I did pick out was the statement that “Men are better than machines”. Super-recognizer women can be pretty sharp too. It appears that this video shows a study by Dr Josh Davis of the police super-recognizer Idris Bada using eye-tracker technology. The video also apparently features testing of a super-recognizer named Simone by Dr Ashok Jansari. Thanks to Planetopia (German TV show) and Dr Josh Davis for making this available.

Super-Recognisers on Planetopia (German TV) featuring Dr Josh P Davis…. YouTube Published October 2012.
http://youtu.be/F3NhZUTWPno

Super-recognizers, superrecognisers, superrecognition, super-recognisers, superrecognizers, super-recognition, whatever: a collection of studies, reading, viewing and tests

Published and Unpublished Research About Super-recognizers

Russell R, Duchaine B, Nakayama K Super-recognizers: people with extraordinary face recognition ability. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. 2009 Apr;16(2):252-7. http://pbr.psychonomic-journals.org/content/16/2/252.full.pdf   This is the study that launched the concept of the super-recognizer in 2009. One of the researchers who wrote this paper has the opposite neurological condition – prosopagnosia.

Russell, Richard, Yue, Xiaomin, Nakayama, Ken and Tootell, Roger B. H.  Neural differences between developmental prosopagnosics and super-recognizers. Journal of Vision. August 6, 2010 vol. 10 no. 7 article 582 doi: 10.1167/10.7.582 http://www.journalofvision.org/content/10/7/582.short Abstract only available. Prosopagnosics had smaller fusiform face areas than the super-recognizers.

Davis, J.P., Lander, K., Evans, R. and Neville, M. (2012) Facial identification from CCTV: investigating predictors of exceptional performance amongst police officers. In: European Association of Psychology and Law 2012, 10-13 Apr 2012, Nicosia, Cyprus. (Unpublished)  http://gala.gre.ac.uk/8462/  This paper was presented at a conference, with authors apparently including Dr Josh Davis and Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville. A lengthy and interesting abstract is openly available but the full paper has restricted access. I have not read full paper. See also below.

Davis, J.P., Lander, K. & Evans, R. (2013). Facial identification from CCTV: Investigating predictors of exceptional face recognition performance amongst police officers. Manuscript submitted for publication. This citation was taken from the list of reference in a 2013 article in The Psychologist.

Richard Russell, Garga Chatterjee, Ken Nakayama Developmental prosopagnosia and super-recognition: No special role for surface reflectance processing.  Neuropsychologia 50 (2012) 334– 340. http://public.gettysburg.edu/~rrussell/Russell_etal_2012.pdf

Hoflinger, Laura Hirnforschung – Superhelden aus dem Museum. Der Spiegel. Volume 11 2012 p.129-131. Article in German, an English translation can be downloaded free in PDF form from Superrecognizers website: http://superrecognizers.squarespace.com/  This article in a popular German magazine reports on the 2011-2012 study of super-recognizers done by Dr Ashok Jansari and his team at UEL, recruiting study subjects from visitors the the Science museum in London. This study has not yet been published in a science journal, but according to a 2013 article by Jansari and other researchers it is being perpared for publication.

Davis, J.P., Lander, K., and Jansari, A. I never forget a face. Psychologist. October 2013. 26(10), 726-729. http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=26&editionID=231&ArticleID=2347 Essential reading on the subject of super-recognizers. Covers the history of the concept of the super-recognizer, use of supers in UK police and summarizes studies of supers including the original 2009 study and studies by Davis and by Jansari which have yet to be published as journal papers. Lots of interesting info from unpublished and published studies, speculation about what causes super-recognition, the prevalence of super-recognition and whether the ability is generalised to higher ability in other types of visual identification, and discussion of the definition of super-recognition and potential for effective and deliberate use of supers in working roles. This article/paper is in an edition of this professional journal titled “The age of the superhuman” which has other material in it about superrecognition and memory superiority.)

Bobak, Anna, Bate, Sarah and Parris, Ben Group differences in the scanning of faces: Insights from ‘super-recognizers’, developmental prosopagnosia and individuals with typical face memory. CogDev 2013: Joint Annual Conference of the BPS Cognitive and Developmental Sections, University of Reading, 4-6 Sept 2013. p.77-78.  http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/pcls/COGDEV2013FINAL.pdf  “The current work investigates the eye-movement patterns during face study and recognition in super-recognizers, individuals with developmental prosopagnosia and matched control participants.” The researchers reportedly found a clear relationship between superiority in face recognition ability (as expressed by membership of either of the three categories of subjects) and looking at the eyes relatively more of the time than looking at the mouth, during learning and also in recognition phases of the task.

Russell, Richard ???? An article about super-recognizers by Caroline Williams published in 2012 in New Scientist magazine claimed that Russell and his research team have done an fMRI study of super-recognizers and the paper was due for publication in late 2012. Assistant Prof. Russell was quoted as saying that supers “seem to be using their brains somewhat differently”. Can’t wait to read this paper.

“Sparrow 2010” ????? This study is mentioned in a discussion of super-recognizers at the web page of the face-recognition research team at the University of East London “The first research in the UK to address this phenomenon was undertaken as part of an MSc project at UEL producing very promising corroborative findings (Sparrow, 2010). ” http://www.uel.ac.uk/psychology/research/face-recognition/ I have not been able to find publication details of this study and I think it remains unpublished. A researcher by the name S. S. Sparrow has had other papers published in the area of autism and face perception. Dr Ashok Jansari was quoted in a 2013 article in The Psychologist in a piece about super-recognizer Moira Jones in the Digest section that “I set up an MSc project to look for super-recognisers in 2010 and have been exploring the phenomenon ever since.”

Tests Which Can be Used to Identify Super-recognizers

Duchaine, Brad & Nakayama, Ken The Cambridge Face Memory Test: Results for neurologically intact individuals and an investigation of its validity using inverted face stimuli and prosopagnosic participantsNeuropsychologia 44 (2006) 576–585. http://visionlab.harvard.edu/members/ken/Ken%20papers%20for%20web%20page/137neuropsychologiaDuchaine2006.pdf  This is the study that validated the test of face memory that has become the “gold standard”, and which is used to identify super-recognizers

Are you ready to find out if you may be a super recogniser? https://greenwichuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9ZVm6G3McDma37D  A three-minute test from Dr Josh Davis, the University of Greenwich and Qualtrics.

Are you a “super-recognizer”? Take a test. 60 Minutes. CBS News. March 18, 2012.http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7402555n&tag=segementExtraScroller;housing

Television News and Current Affairs Reports About Super-recognizers and Face Recognition

London police using crime-fighting “super recognizers” official. Reporter Mark Phillips. CBS News. Dailymotion. Publication date November 12th 2013. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x173o5e_london-police-using-crime-fighting-super-recognizers_news   An American report on the use of super-recognizers in London policing. Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville explains how inadequate computer facial recognition was found to be compared with results from police supers. PC Gary Collins and researcher Dr Josh Davis are also interviewed, and super-recognizer police doing identification work are shown. It is revealed that tests are being developed for recruiting super-recognizers into a police force in London.

Are you a “super-recognizer”? Take a test. 60 Minutes. CBS News. March 18, 2012.http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7402555n&tag=segementExtraScroller;housing

Comments on: Are you a “super-recognizer”? Take a test. http://www.cbsnews.com/8601-504803_162-57399111.html?assetTypeId=41&blogId=10391709&tag=postComments;commentWrapper

Face Blindness. Reporter – Lesley Stahl, Producer – Shari Finkelstein, 60 Minutes, CBS News, Broadcast March 18th 2012. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57399118/face-blindness-when-everyone-is-a-stranger/?tag=contentMain;contentBody

Super-recognisers (The One Show, BBC 1 Scotland): Dr Josh P Davis….  YouTube. Broadcast on BBC1 on 9th April 2013. Uploaded by Dr Josh P. Davis, copyright owned by BBC1 Scotland. http://youtu.be/PuPfQ8UZTGQ In this clip from The One Show Dr Michael Mosley interviews super-recognizer policeman Gary Collins and super-recognition researcher Dr Josh Davis.

Police super-recognisers. reporter Sharon Thomas London Tonight. London Regional News. ITV. Tue Feb 28 2012  http://www.itnsource.com/en/jp/shotlist/ITN/2012/02/28/T28021245/?v=0&a=1 See it on YouTube: http://youtu.be/7QA4ih5u-vk PC Gary Collins from the Metropolitan Police and researcher Dr Josh Davis were interviewed.

Super-Recognisers on Planetopia (German TV) featuring Dr Josh P Davis…. YouTube Published October 2012.
http://youtu.be/F3NhZUTWPno  Also published here:  http://youtu.be/7KxqnaTZCOo An interesting video of a special report about super-recognizers on a German TV show in German.

Dr Josh P. Davis http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3rErlc6ayyZb1ROLvPQPtA?feature=watch YouTube channel of this researcher.

Radio Stories About Super-recognizers

Hammond, Claudia Super recognizers. BBC Radio 4. first broadcast 25 Jan 2010 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00q3fbv

Super-recognizer Researchers’ Web Pages and Websites

Superrecognizers. http://superrecognizers.squarespace.com/ A website of Dr Ashok Jansari and his team at the University of East London

Face-Recognition Research Team, UEL School of Psychology http://www.uel.ac.uk/psychology/research/face-recognition/ Dr Jansari is the team leader

http://www.joshpdavis.org.uk/#!news/mainPage news page at website of Dr Josh P. Davis of the University of Greenwich

Social Perception Lab, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College http://www.faceblind.org/social_perception/index.html  Superrecognition authority and prosopagnosia researcher Assoc. Prof. Brad Duchaine is the PI at this lab.

Richard Russell http://public.gettysburg.edu/~rrussell/index.html  Website of face perception researcher Richard Russell Assistant Professor of Psychology Gettysburg College Psychology Department

Academic Book Chapter About Super-recognizers Scheduled for publication in 2014:

Valentine, T., & Davis, J.P. (Editors). Forensic Facial Identification. Wiley Blackwell.  (Authors will be Dr Josh P Davis from University of Greenwich and Professor Tim Valentine from Goldsmiths, University of London)

Popular non-fiction book apparently written by a British super-recognizer police officer:

Officer “A” The Crime Factory: The Shocking True Story of a Front-Line CID Detective. Mainstream Publishing, 5 April 2012. This book was published under a nom de plume or pen name, but some sources give Andy Jennings as the author’s name. This is a quite sensationalist account of a now-retired UK police undercover detective’s career experiences while working in Australia for the WA Police Force (WAPOL). This book includes many descriptions of blunders and inadequacies of WAPOL. There has been debate among readers about how much of this book is fiction. A passage on page 12 suggests that the author is a super-recognizer and there is discussion on page 53 of what it is like to have a “photographic memory”. I have written about this book here. 

Reddit discussion about a super-recognizer and a prosopagnosic who are in a relationship

MyNameIs BrookeToo I am a faceblind girl dating a super-recognizer. AUsA. Reddit. Discussion started March 25th 2012. http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/rcgh8/i_am_a_faceblind_girl_dating_a_superrecognizer/  A fascinating and long discussion in which a prosopagnosic lady using the name MyNameIs BrookeToo and her super-recognizer boyfriend using the name Shandog answer many questions.

Science Journal, Magazine, Science News and Press Articles About Super-recognizers

Rutherford, Pam Never forgetting a face. BBC News. January 25th 2010 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8474827.stm

Grimston, Jack Eagle-Eye of the Yard can spot rioters by their ears.  Sunday Times, The, 20.11.2011, p12,13-12,13, 1; Language: EN Section: News Edition: 01. EBSCOhost Accession number 7EH53940939 http://www.faceblind.org/social_perception/papers/Supers.pdf  A substantial article but not easy to obtain in full text

Hoflinger, Laura Hirnforschung – Superhelden aus dem Museum. Der Spiegel. Volume 11 2012 p.129-131. Article in German, an English translation can be downloaded free in PDF form from Superrecognizers website: http://superrecognizers.squarespace.com/ This article in a popular German magazine reports on the 2011-2012 study of super-recognizers done by Dr Ashok Jansari and his team at UEL, a study which to my knowledge has not yet been published in a science journal.)

Williams, Caroline Face savers. New Scientist. 15 September 2012 no.2882 pages 36-39.   online title: ‘Super-recognisers’ have amazing memory for faces. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528821.500-superrecognisers-have-amazing-memory-for-faces.html Worth a read. Caroline Williams has also written an article about prosopagnosia for this magazine. I have found one letter by Maryse Palemans in response to the above article, published in October 2012 in the magazine, in which Maryse recounted how a super-recognizer father surprised a policeman met 20 years earlier by recognizing him, an amusing reversal of the usual theme of police super-recognizers identifying members of the public. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21628861.200-ello-ello-ello.html

How to recognise the super-recognisers. British Psychological Society. August 30th 2012. http://www.bps.org.uk/news/how-recognise-super-recognisers

(a short discussion of research by Davis, Lander and Evans.)

Davis, J.P. Super-recognisers in the police: Exceptional at face recognition, highly meticulous or viewing the right CCTV footage at the wrong time – for the criminal? University of Kent Research Seminar Series. February 2013.    http://media.wix.com/ugd/81aef3_e5f728b80964b0a3e805181574b2b248.pdf

(an abstract of a seminar which apparently was not presented)

Storr, Will Human image banks: meet the Met’s ‘Super recognisers’. Telegraph. March 26th 2013.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9942759/Human-image-banks-meet-the-Mets-Super-recognisers.html

(A substantial article about the work of police super-recognizer Idris Bada and other police supers. DCI Mick Neville interviewed. PC Martin Lotriet also identified as a police super. Dr Josh Davis interviewed, and his surname misspelt.)

‘Super recognisers’ turn gaze on Carnival. Metropolitan Police: Total Policing. August 21st 2013.  http://content.met.police.uk/News/Super-recognisers-turn-gaze-on-Carnival/1400019306715/1257246745756

(A brief article in a police publication. Number of identified supers in the Metropolitan Police given as 180. Includes the interesting claim that super police officers can remember not only faces but also names, birth dates and other details of offenders, which highlights the fact that memory is based in the initial encoding of information, which may be limited or detailed.)

Gaidos, Susan Familiar faces. Science News.  Web edition August 23rd 2013, Print edition September 7th 2013. Volume 184 Number 5 p.16. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/352687/description/Familiar_faces

(Science News is the “Magazine of the Society for Science & the Public”. A substantial article. Julian Lim, Carrie Shanafelt and Ajay Jansari (brother of super-recognizer researcher Dr Ashok Jansari) identified as super-recognizers. Researchers interviewed include Bradley Duchaine, Ashok Jansari, Irving Biederman, Nancy Kanwisher, Josh P. Davis and Joe DeGutis. Interesting info about possible directions of future research.)

Taylor, Matthew Police ‘super recognisers’ to keep watch over Notting Hill carnival. Guardian. August 24th 2013.  http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2013/aug/23/police-super-recognisers-notting-hill-carnival

(An article about plans for the huge upcoming Notting Hill Carnival in England, including the planned first ever significant use of (police) super-recognizers to monitor a live event. Chief Superintendent Mick Johnson from the Metropolitan Police interviewed. Police super Patrick O’Riordan interviewed.)

Perry, Susan ‘Super recognizers’: People who never forget a face. MinnPost. August 29th 2013.  http://www.minnpost.com/second-opinion/2013/08/super-recognizers-people-who-never-forget-face

(Science News article by Gaidos summarized. Use of supers by UK police discussed. Research by Dr Isabel Gauthier on use of face recognition brain areas for specialist visual ID of classes of objects is discussed.)

Buckland, Danny Police officers’ superhuman ability to recognise faces is being used to fight crime. Express. September 1st 2013.  http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/426014/Police-officers-superhuman-ability-to-recognise-faces-is-being-used-to-fight-crime

(includes photo of Metropolitan Police super-recognizers Paul Hyland, Kieran Grant and Patrick O’Riordan. The use of supers by The Met during the Notting Hill Carnival described. Police supers and super-recognition researcher Dr Ashok Jansari interviewed and asserts the superiority of humans over technology in face recognition.)

Cheng, Maria, Keaten, Jamey, Associated Press Don’t I know you? If London police’s super recognizers have met you before, the answer is yes. Canada.com September 27th 2013.  http://www.canada.com/health/Dont+know+London+polices+super+recognizers+have+before+answer/8965531/story.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+canwest%2FF67+(canada.com+Body+and+Health)

(“Associated Press Writer Jamey Keaten contributed to this report from Paris.” Police super-recognizer Paul Hyland discussed. Use of Met police supers at Notting Hill Carnival described. Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville gives figures for achievements of police super-recognizers versus a facial recognition program showing vast inferiority of the technology. Opinions from legal experts about use of supers as expert witnesses is recounted, critical view from privacy advocate recounted, and use of supers in obtaining search warrants discussed. Major super-recognition researchers interviewed. Dr Josh Davis discusses plans for more research and a new test. Dr Brad Duchaine claims supers are superior to technology.)

AP/Cheng, Maria London Police Use Super Recognizers to Fight Crime. Time. September 27th 2013.  http://world.time.com/2013/09/27/london-police-use-super-recognizers-to-fight-crime/#ixzz2hkafR9rC

(same as above)

Cheng, Maria / AP Super Recognizers Used By London Police To Fight Crime. Huffington Post. September 27th 2013.  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/27/super-recognizers_n_4002839.html

(same as above)

Jaslow, Ryan London police using 200 super-recognizers: What makes them “super”?. CBS News. September 27th 2013.  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-204_162-57605067/london-police-using-200-super-recognizers-what-makes-them-super/

(Superrecognition researcher Prof. Richard Russell interviewed, estimates super-recognizers are 1 in 1,000.)

Camber, Rebecca The man who NEVER forgets the face: How Scotland Yard’s elite squad of 200 ‘super recognisers’ can spot a suspect in a crowd. MailOnline. Daily Mail. September 27th 2013.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2435043/Scotland-Yards-elite-squad-200-super-recognisers-forget-face.html#ixzz2gFQzxiVF

(similar to the AP article but shorter and with interesting photos.)

AP London police use super recognizers to fight crime. Times of India. September 28th 2013.  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/London-police-use-super-recognizers-to-fight-crime/articleshow/23191190.cms

(Same article as one by Cheng, Keaten and AP)

Cheng, Maria, Associated Press Super recognisers help Scotland Yard fight crime. National. September 27th 2013.  http://www.thenational.ae/world/europe/super-recognisers-help-scotland-yard-fight-crime

(similar to other articles)

AP London police use super recognisers to fight crime. Gulf News. September 27th 2013.  http://gulfnews.com/news/world/london-police-use-super-recognisers-to-fight-crime-1.1236204

(similar to other articles)

Cheng, Maria, Associated Press Don’t I know you? London police squad of elite super recognizers a new concept. Windsor Star. September 28th 2013.  http://www.windsorstar.com/know+London+police+squad+elite+super+recognizers+concept/8971850/story.html

(appears to be an edited version of AP story)

McFarland, Sam Digest: We meet people who have or research ‘super’ abilities. Psychologist. Volume 26 Part 10 October 2013. p.716-717.

http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=26&editionID=231&ArticleID=2345

(Interesting brief piece of autobiographical writing by super-recognizer Moira Jones about her ability and how it has been useful in her past work in retail. Also comments by researcher Dr Ashok Jansari summarizing the span of his research on supers which includes recruiting Jones as a study subject. Also in the same issue a substantial article about super-recognizers. )

Davis, J.P., Lander, K., and Jansari, A. I never forget a face. Psychologist. October 2013. 26(10), 726-729. http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm?volumeID=26&editionID=231&ArticleID=2347

(Essential reading on the subject of super-recognizers. Covers the history of the concept of the super-recognizer, use of supers in UK police and summarizes studies of supers including the original 2009 study and studies by Davis and by Jansari which have yet to be published as journal papers. Lots of interesting info from unpublished and published studies, speculation about what causes super-recognition, the prevalence of super-recognition and whether the ability is generalised to higher ability in other types of visual identification, and discussion of the definition of super-recognition and potential for effective and deliberate use of supers in working roles. This article/paper is in an edition of this professional journal titled “The age of the superhuman” which has other material in it about superrecognition and memory superiority.)

Bremer, Bruce Some London police are “super-recognizers”. Law Enforcement Today. October 5th 2013. http://lawenforcementtoday.com/2013/10/05/some-london-police-are-%E2%80%9Csuper-recognizers%E2%80%9D/

(A brief article from a US police publication confirming that the use of supers by the police force in London is currently unique in the world. Also see the detailed clarifying comment by Mick Neville.)

Jarrett, Christian Day 2 of Digest super Week: meet a super-recogniser. BPS Research Digest. October 8th 2013.  http://bps-research-digest.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/day-2-of-digest-super-week-meet-super.html

(appears to be the same as the piece in The Psychologist by Sam McFarland about Moira Jones)

If you know of any substantial item that should be in this list but isn’t, please let me know in a comment.

Another super-recognizer test, just a wee little one

Maybe this is the super-recognizer test which lots of my recent blog readers were looking for. You don’t need to be logged on to Facebook to do it. It appears to be the creation of the UK face recognition researcher Dr Ashok Jansari and his team at the University of East London and it is presented by the UK TV show Hidden Talent. I had a go at this test and got a score in the normal, not super-recognizer range. It is a tricky test, requiring the person doing the test to identify faces seen for only seconds in two quite different emotional and visual contexts. The test is designed so that non-face elements of a person’s appearance such as hair cannot be used to identify, thus it is a true test of face recognition and can’t be cheated by using memory for other elements, and this test also it isn’t just a test of photograph recognition, which is a criticism that can be made of some other tests that only use one photo of each face in the test, with photos often including hair and other background elements. One good thing about the test is that it includes faces of both sexes, which possibly makes it a more realistic measure, while some tests of face memory used by university researchers include only male faces, including the respected Cambridge Face Memory Test. People taking this test are required to memorise faces shown from a particular angle and displaying a particular emotional expression, and are later required to identify some of these memorized faces shown in a different angle and/or a different emotional expression. This might seem like a realistic way to test face recognition but I doubt that it is, because in real-life situations even if we only meet a person for minutes or seconds we usually get the opportunity to memorize the appearance of a face across some kind of range of angles and expressions. This is not the same situation as being required to recognize a face across a range of angles and expressions. In this test I think the phase of face memorization is limited compared to real-life situations of face memorization. If the difference between a natural super-recognizer and a normal recognizer lies in the richness of the encoding of the memories of faces, then this test might not be fit to measure this. I believe the fairly artificial limtation of the memorization phase is one of this test’s flaws, and in this respect it reminds me a lot of the second test of face recognition which I was given to do when I volunteered as a research subject in an Australian university in 2011. I don’t know the official name of that test and I was never informed of my score in that test. In that test I was required to memorize Chinese-looking male faces in profile and identify them displayed in a full-face angle, and it just didn’t feel like face recognition. I know that any success that I had in that test was probably due to employing conscious strategies for face matching (such as making conscious note of facial features and matching skin colours), which most certainly isn’t natural face recognition (which is a completely automatic and unconscious process, rather like synaesthesia).

One could also definitely criticise this test for not being large or long enough, and thus more likely to give results biased by chance. There are only 11 faces presented for memorization, to be picked out of a set of 15 faces presented in the second part of the test. Compare this with the short version of the Cambridge Face Memory Test with a maximum possible score of 72, and it’s clear that this test is not a lot more than a bit of fun. One definite problem with this test is that I found that I could get a score in the normal range using a very simple strategy without even looking at the faces. I’m wondering how anyone could get a score in the low range, and this test appears to have no value for identifying prosopagnosia. A criticism that could be levelled at all tests of face recognition or face memory is that they don’t reflect real life face recognition situations. When we meet people, even if it is just for a few seconds, we usually see a moving, speaking image, not a still image, and in that movement we see not just a face from a range of angles but also the accompanying body language, probably a range of different emotional expressions, and also the very individual ways in which a person moves their face and body. When you meet a person you see the life and the personality in their face and body, not just a static piece of meat, and that is more memorable than a still image of a face. I’m wondering why face recognition researchers haven’t come up with a test that uses video clips rather than still photographs. It seems like an obvious way to make a face recognition test more like a test of what people need to be able to do in real life.

Super recogniser. https://apps.facebook.com/hiddentalentshow/fb/tests/recognizer

Dr Ashok Jansari’s search for super-recognizers finds seven – article in Der Spiegel

According to the English translation of this article, which is available through the Superrecognizers website belonging to Dr Jansari and his team at the University of East London, the search for super-recognizers in London that was conducted late last year into early 2012 yielded 7 super-recognizers out of the 725 people who participated in the testing study at the Science Museum in London, including a surprising find that the brother of Dr Jansari is one of the seven. How strange is that? So, we know that one of the seven super-recognizers is male. What are the genders of the others? I don’t think it says in this article.

Also of interest in the article is information about the elite group of super-recognizer police in London’s Metropolitan Police, with interviews with super-super-recognizer Idris Bada and Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville.

Hoflinger, Laura Hirnforschung – Superhelden aus dem Museum. Der Spiegel. Volume 11 2012 p.129-131.  http://www.superrecognizers.com/storage/Der%20Spiegel_super-recognizers_March2012.pdf

An English translation can be accessed from here:  http://www.superrecognizers.com/in-the-news/

This is a quote from the translation:

“The neuropsychologist Jansari suspects that his brother and the other super-recognizers process faces in a rather holistic way; they do not focus as much on single parts of the face, like the nose, mouth or eyes.”

If I’m a super-recognizer, then I don’t know if this idea of super-recognizers having more holistic perception with less focus on individual elements explains the difference between us and people with normal levels of ability. I do very much notice individual elements of faces, consciously and unconsciously, as well as recognizing whole faces in a way that feels automatic and uncontrolled. I will notice if different people have mouths or ears that look similar and also distinctive. I recall that a boy I knew when I was a teen and he was a child had a William Shatner mouth, which is a quite an unusual type of mouth where the upper lip looks the larger. Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela seem to have very similar smiles and lower faces, but not identical faces. I think the difference between a super-recognizer and a regular recognizer might be that the former does both holisitc and detailed perception well and also in a well-integrated manner. I believe enhanced brain wiring akin to synaesthesia might be the basis of this enhanced integration of both modes of perception. I suspect that an emphasis on perceiving faces feature-by-feature might be more characteristic of poor face recognition than good face recognition. In the recent CBS 60 Minutes story about prosopagnosia and super-recognizers the prosopagnosic artist Chuck Close was asked to identify the faces of some famous people. He did manage to identify some of the faces and he explained how he did it. He identified Jay Leno from his very unusual chin and picked Tiger Woods from his lips.

It is interesting to see for the first time researchers giving estimates of how common (or rare) super-recognizers might be in the population at large. The seven in seven hundred and twenty-five people tested in the London study suggests that super-recognizers are made by mother nature at a rate of just over 1% of the population, while Dr Jansari’s team give an estimate of 2% for super-recognizers at their website http://www.superrecognizers.com/about/  I guess it all depends on definitions and cut-off points, which are arbitrary. At levels of one or two percent super-recognizers are rare enough to constitute some kind of elite, worth identifying or recruiting if the trait is found to have some value or utility, but are also not so rare that anyone can dismiss the possibility that one could encounter or find a super-recognizer in their community or workplace or social circle. Perhaps super-recognizers should form some kind of association or society or club. The future is anyone’s guess, as this area of scientific inquiry is shiny and new, and we are dealing with a concept that is only a few years old.

At the beginning of the Der Spiegel article there are six photographs of famous people when they were children, which can be used as a mini Before They Were Famous Test if you don’t scroll down too soon and see who they are. How many of them are you able to identify? I picked three of them correctly, and couldn’t guess at the others who were not unknown to me but weren’t hugely familiar either, as I’m not as European as the magazine is. I had seen the photo of the little boy with the big hat before and knew who it is. The thing that really struck me about this photo is the apparent abnormality with the child’s eyes. They don’t match – one is much darker than the other, which seems rather worrying. Some people naturally have irises of different colours, but it isn’t a good thing if pupil sizes don’t match.

I’ve not mentioned before that there are three different types of things to look at which seem to catch my eye in ways that are a maybe bit extreme or distracting. These things are faces (animals and human), cars travelling at a speed of around 40 KPH (especially the wheels), and eyes. I simply cannot abide the sight of eyes that point in different directions, even in the slightest. Glass eyes are the worst, and lazy eyes make me feel ill, even if the owner of them is the nicest person in the world. And some apparently healthy and normal people have eyes that seem to be very slightly out. This seems to happen more often in people whose eyes protrude slightly, for whatever reason, and this type of thing seems to be unusually common among a particular ethnic group from the South Pacific. Another eye issue that sets me on edge is eyes with pupils that don’t look right, because one looks bigger in one eye than the other, or they both seem to be too dilated, bringing to mind the image of a pet cat in an aggressive mood. Have you ever read the classic short story The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe? A bad eye can certainly be quite a distraction, but it isn’t only eye imperfection which catches my eye. I can also become quite distracted by the perfection of good eyes in some circumstances. Newborn babies are such lovely little things with soft, perfect skin, but they are quite limited in things that they can do to express themselves physically. Their limb movements seem random and quite uncontrolled, but the way their eyes move is a display of how perfectly a baby has been put together by nature, because even though the baby might look around in an apparently uncontrolled manner, his or her eyes will usually match perfectly in their movements. This I find fascinating, in a way that seems to owe more to instinct than to intellect. Maybe all mothers find the eyes of young babies fascinating in a way that is strangely compelling. I’m just glad that I don’t live on an island in the South Pacific.

Super-recognizer to appear on Channel 4’s The Hidden Talent Show? Documentary about superrecognizers?

From Facebook three weeks ago: “For a Channel 4 programme called Hidden Talent Richard Bacon interviewed UEL Lecturer Ashok about his study into Super Face Recognition and it’s polar opposite Face Blindness”

From Twitter February 24th 2012: “Dr Jansari currently being interviewed by Richard Bacon for Channel 4 documentary about super-recognizers.”

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150694743997363.463985.30664112362&type=3

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/take-part/articles/the-hidden-talent-show

http://www.silverriver.tv/in-production/the-hidden-talent-show/

View the show here for a limted time, subject to geoblocking:  Hidden Talent Series 1 Episode 5 May 22 2012 Channel 4 UK  http://www.channel4.com/programmes/hidden-talent/4od#3340727

From the written description of this episode, it appears that Dr Ashok Jansari administered the Before They Were Famous Test and also probably the Cambridge Face Memory Test to a crowd to find super-recognizers, a screening process modelled on the 2009 paper by Russell, Duchaine and Nakayama which launched the concept of the super-recognizer. This screening process identified three super-recognizers: Richard (male name), Charlie (gender not clear) and Higo (male). They are then put through a live test of face memory.