Tag Archives: My Test Results

Calling all supers! New testing opportunity for all, and for some to take part in a study

http://www.testmybrain.org/SupersRecruitment.html

One of the world’s leading researchers in the related areas of face memory, face recognition, prosopagnosia and super-recognition has given me the tip that super-recognizers are wanted as research subjects, and they are being recruited through the above web link which appears to be associated with the long-running online research and volunteer testing website TestMyBrain. I have also been advised that for this study the researchers are looking for subjects who reside in the continental states of the United States of America, but if that isn’t you, and you get a very high score in the test and follow the instructions and send the researchers your score there is some possibility that some time in the future you might be sought for some other study. Of course, you don’t have to share your score with anyone, and you might wish to take this test simply to get a good idea of what level of face memory ability you have. Maybe you suspect that you might have prosopagnosia (disability in face memory) or you might just want verification that you are what we call normal. When I finished the test I was given my own score and also an average score, so I guess you could use this test to compare yourself against the norm. I am not sure whether the researchers might object to curious people rather than potential super-recognizer study subjects doing the test. If that is a problem, they can let me know. I am also not 100% sure whether or not all scores from doing the online test are used as anonymous research data, as is the case in some websites that offer online neuro-cognitive testing, or is this testing merely used to screen eligible candidates for an upcoming study of super-recognizers. I suspect the latter. You should contact the researchers yourself if you have any questions.

This is an important new opportunity to undergo a test of face memory ability because this test is a version of the Cambridge Face Memory Test, a test that has a well-deserved reputation as a scientifically valid test of face memory, and it has been quite a long time since I’ve been aware of any version of the CFMT being openly available to take through the internet. This test appears to be a third version of the CFMT, the first being a 72 question short form, the second version being the 102 question long form, and this version being another 72 question version but with new faces (I’m pretty good at judging these things) that are computer-generated. All versions have all male faces. I recall reading somewhere that the faces used for the first version of the CFMT are based on real American Caucasian people. It’s probably a good idea to use computer-generated faces for the latest version, to avoid the possibility that real people might be stopped in the street by super-recognizers exclaiming “Hey! You’re one of those blokes in that face recognition test!”

For people hoping to find a way of documenting their own status as a super-recognizer this is an opportunity to do a scientifically credible test of face recognition and also get access to your own written score in that test along with an average score, but be advised that I did not automatically get any printed statement verifying that my score was in the range of super-recognizers, and I did not notice any printed range of scores for super-recognizers given anywhere in the testing. It was pretty obvious from the results page that my score was in the elite range though. I have been advised by someone who should know that a score of 69 is considered to be in the super-recognizer range. I found this test to be harder than the first version of the CFMT, and I suspect that super-recognizers might find that they don’t bump their heads on a ceiling with this test. Information that I have at hand suggests that the average score on the new 72 question version of the CFMT is lower than the average score on the old 72 question version. For super-recognizers who are eligible and willing to take part in the study after they have done the screening test I guess there might be further opportunities to document their status as a super-recognizer and meet researchers, but I can only guess. At least your participation would give you the right to refer to yourself as a “Citizen Scientist”, which sounds fairly impressive. As I live in Australia I will not be able to participate in the study so I can’t advise you where it all leads. My best tips for people interested in documenting their score are to follow the instructions carefully, be ready to take your own full-colour print-outs of any screen with your score on it and if you have questions contact the people behind the test.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve been asked by a researcher from an overseas university to help with recruiting supers for research studies, and I’m happy to help with genuine requests because I like to see science moving forward and I know that participating in research can be interesting and sometimes rewarding. The website TestMyBrain is associated with many genuine researchers of social psychology, neuro-cognition, visual perception, face perception and various interesting and important things, including researchers from the Social Perception Lab at Dartmouth College and researchers from the prestigious Harvard University. Researchers linked to the website appear to be generally based at universities and colleges in the United States of America.

In case you are curious, my score on the new test is 69 out of 72 and I have been advised that my score is in the super-recognizer range. As I have written about in old posts at this blog, I have also done the earlier versions of the CFMT. The first version of the CFMT was either the first or the second face memory test that I ever did, and I was amazed at the time to get perfect scores on both online tests I did that day. I had gotten 72 out of 72 on the old version of the CFMT, but till then I had no idea that I was a super-recognizer. In 2010 through an Australian university I did some face memory tests in person and I firmly believe one of those tests was the long form of the CFMT, my score in that one given as “96%”, which presumably means I got 98 correct out of a possible 102 correct, which is well within the super-recognizer range, based on data about supers from the 2009 journal paper that launched the concept of the super-recognizer. As I’ve stated earlier, I have at hand data that indicates that the new CFMT is more difficult than the earlier version of the same length. The norm for the first version was given as 80% correct face recognition (presumably an average score of 57.6 out of 72) while the average for the new version is currently cited as a score of 52.49 (out of 72). So it appears that the CFMT has become more difficult while my face memory ability has not measurably changed in the four years since it was first tested.

I wish the researchers planning to study supers the best of luck and I look forward to reading a published report of what they find. We are all working to help people and to advance scientific knowledge, and those are for sure two noble causes.

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Not just faces

There I was last night watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show with one of our kids who was viewing it for the first time (and was predictably an instant fan), and I was impressed by what I thought were similarities between the “Expert” character played by the late English actor Charles Gray and the European-raised Gilbert Proesch, who is one half of the two-man art phenomenon Gilbert and George. I felt there was such a similarity that I wondered if the artist had done an acting role, and they were the same person, but at the same time I knew that one has a very asymmetric face and the other didn’t. I still felt that there is some similarity, but wasn’t sure exactly what or how. Now that I’ve been able to Google up some images of the faces of both men, it is clear that their faces in still photography look quite different, and it is also obvious that although the artist has lived in England for a long time, he retains an exotic European accent that is quite different to the English actor’s. So why do I still feel that there is some similarity? Clearly it isn’t face or accent matching. Perhaps their voices are similar in pitch or something, but I think what I’ve been doing is recognition of personas or personalities or characters. The characters portrayed by Gray and Proesch (Gilbert and George are an act, though probably close to reality) are similar in many ways. They are English gents wearing suits with gray hair of a similar style, of a similar age (in the films I’ve viewed of each), with personalities that are male, quite handsome, well-spoken, urbane, controlled and focused, culturally English, intellectual, interesting and authoritative in some way, but at the same time both operating within the shock-comedy-art genre (Gilbert and George’s interviews are often very funny and their art could be interpreted as shock-comedy-art). I think it is possible that their body language and/or voices might be quite similar, which might not be captured in still images.

What does this mean? Why does this matter? I think it shows that there’s much more to being a super-recognizer (as I apparently am according to numerous test results) than merely memorizing the shapes and contours of mental images of faces. I think the thing that gives me “the edge” in face recognition is a great memory for personality or character, which means being able to automatically encode in my brain the whole package of what makes a person; face, hair, body, culture, gender, personality, level of intellect, vocabulary, race, etc. I’m certain that this ability in memorization of the whole person is related the the fact that I’m a synaesthete with a hyper-connected brain, which may well mean that I’m better than others at memorizing a concept of one particular person consisting of a large number of traits of that person, including visual, conceptual and auditory information (face, personality, voice etc) and each of those traits things that they might have in common with any number of other people I’ve seen and memorized. As you should be able to see (in your mind’s eye), this type of memorization is like a huge and complex network of associations. I suspect that a hyper-connected brain might be good at handling this type of categorical thinking about disparate characteristics. I also think this type of personality recognition is related to the fact that I’m not only a synesthete but a personifying synaesthete. Ever since childhood I’ve automatically thought of numbers and letters as having human attributes such as ages and genders and personalities. This is called ordinal-linguistic personification, and it is a type of synaesthesia. I guess my brain has always been very keen to memorize personalities, even in things that aren’t actually people. If you want to fully understand superiority in face recognition, you will need to look at synaesthesia and personification. That is my tip to researchers and that is also MY idea.

 

Another test using the faces of famous people

This Famous Faces Recognition Test is a different test than the Famous Faces test which I did years ago, and got a perfect score on. This test is from a group of researchers in the UK who call themselves troublewithfaces.org The purpose of this test is identifying those who have trouble recognizing faces, which is the case with most of the face recognition tests by researchers that you can find on the internet, but I guess if you give it a go and find that you scored 100% that could be evidence that you’re a super-recognizer. Maybe.

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1WOHqpUSO0MCtUv3TvIpdLocZ2Aum_96jCNHbh2Jhk-0/viewform

Postscript November 2013

I have been notified that I scored 100% in this test, while the normal range of the test is from 60% to 80%. I guess that is what one would expect from a super-recognizer. Am I a super-recognizer? I think I am.

 

Short super-recognizer test here!

UPDATE DECEMBER 2013 – this thing appears to be no longer going.

This test is from the superrecognition researcher Dr Josh Davis of the University of Greenwich. You can do the test just out of interest, but if your score suggests you could be a super-recognizer, you can also volunteer your details to possibly be the subject of research. This is a very brief test. To be honest, I’m not convinced this test is long enough or hard enough to really sort the supers from the normals with good ability. Oddly, there is no automatic scoring in the test and you need to note your own score. I didn’t notice getting any wrong, so I guess I must have got a perfect score. I found that for most of the test arrays of faces I didn’t need to look at all of the faces that one could choose from, because I spotted the familiar face quickly, and felt sure of my fast and first choice of face. Sometimes I looked at most of the faces, just to be sure, but it seemed to be a bit redundant and irrational. Me getting a perfect score in this test is no surprise, as I got a perfect score in the short CFMT and the Famous Faces tests, and a super-recognizer level score in the long form of the CFMT when tested at a WA university. I’d still recommend the CFMT as the gold standard in face memory testing, but I don’t think that test is easy to access any more. Why not try this one? It will cost you only 3 minutes of your life.

https://greenwichuniversity.eu.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_9ZVm6G3McDma37D

How’s your ability in voice perception?

Guess a person’s age from their voice. New Scientist. 

http://www.newscientist.com/embedded/voice-age-quiz

I tried the test but got no score or feedback about how I did compared to others who’ve done the test. I think I did well, with most age judgements within 10 years of the correct answer, a few, maybe 4 I guessed the ages within a year or two.

I maintain that there are some women who have voices that sound much younger than their age. They are unusual, but they do exist. There is an interesting collection of reasons why men can have voices that sound deeper and older than their years. Hormones probably influence how deep a man’s voice is, and this effect can be confused with the effects of age. There is a common belief that alcohol can have a temporary deepening effect on the vocal cords, giving a deeper tone the day after a big night. I think there’s something in this theory, but I’m not sure how much it is supported by hard evidence. The Uncyclopedia’s recipe for a rich bass voice describes a lifestyle that is not for everyone: “The diet of a bass consists of alcohol, cigarettes, more alcohol, fried meat products, children, ex girlfriends, yet more alcohol and even more cigarettes.” The late Jim Morrisson had a reputation as a hard drinker and had a singing voice well beyond his years. Till Lindemann has a brown-coloured monster of a voice, and a family background in which people hit the bottle hard. Genetics clearly plays a major role in vocal pitch, often displaying a pattern of inheritance. I have known one family in which both the father and sons from infancy onward all had markedly deep voices. An unusually hoarse voice can be caused by a genetic connective tissue or collagen disorder. Inhaling Sulphur Hexafluoride can deepen the voice temporarily, but that’s a pretty silly thing to do. Lots of things besides the ageing process can alter the sound of the voice, so reading age in the voice is not always a simple thing.

A super-recognizer test from The Mythical Show

It’s a bit like the face recognition test that I’ve been hoping to get a chance to do for years now, the Before They Were Famous Test. Like that test this is a test using photos of American celebrities from before they were famous. The only problem with that for me is that I’m Australian and therefore I’m not as familiar with famous people from the United States as most Americans are, and there is also a small but measurable cross-race effect between Australians and Americans. This means that an Aussie has a slight disadvantage in ace recognition tests such as the CFMT that use American faces because in life our brains have been trained to recognize racially and ethnically Australian faces (whatever that might mean). Presumably an American would have a slight disadvantage at a test that uses Aussie faces. I correctly identified six of the famous faces in this video. I almost identified another American celebrity in the test from the eyes but then the wind blew in the other direction and the notion of who it was flew out of my head. Two of the celebrities I never knew in the first place, so they don’t count. I think it’s a pretty good and hard test of facial recognition or face memory. How did you go?

Name These Celebrities Game. Good Mythical Morning Episode 219. YouTube. Published on Jan 18, 2013.

http://youtu.be/BQN_8OVzldc

My test scores for a group of face-related tests

I have had a go at the “Fear, Anger, and Joy” test from the Vision Lab at Harvard University and my results were 54 out of 56 (average 45.21), 54 out of 56 (average 49.31) and 46 out of 56 (average 44.08). Find the test here http://www.testmybrain.org/index.php

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

Woo Hoo! A test specifically for super-recognizers from CBS 60 Minutes

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

158 interesting comments here:  http://www.cbsnews.com/8601-504803_162-57399111.html?assetTypeId=41&blogId=10391709&tag=postComments;commentWrapper

I think the test presented in this video is an excerpt from the Before They Were Famous Test, a test which I’ve been trying to gain access to since September 2010. The full test has 56 photos of famous people, with super-recognizers typically correctly identifying less than 32 of those, so it is certainly a test to sort out people at the highest end of the spectrum of ability. There are a total of 17 photos of famous British or American people presented in this video. Out of the 17 I was totally unfamiliar with 6 of the famous people (I’ve lived in Australia all my life and have limited interest in recent and obscure US celebrities). I never knew them from a bar of soap. Of the 11 celebrities whom I am familiar with, I identified 5 of them correctly while doing the test at the same pace as the video playing, missing 6 of the famous faces that I do know. I think I could have picked the face of Nancy Reagan if her face had been shown in a close-up, not a long-shot, a few seconds before the video revealed her identity. As soon as someone tells you who a known person is in a photo it is usually impossible not to see who they are, so I didn’t count Nancy Reagan as a hit. Her face is very distinctive, even as a young girl. I don’t think I can conclude anything much about me from my score, because as an Aussie I don’t think my score can be compared with American people taking the test, but it was a bit of fun.

The video features Jennifer Jarett tackling the test in fine form. I’m pretty sure that she was one of the first a super-recognisers to be identified by science, in a journal paper published in 2009. She has also been the subject of a 2009 article in the New York Times.

If you think you might be a super-recognizer and you also wish to do testing to see if this is true, I believe you would need to do both the full Before They Were Famous Test (with the caution that cultural differences might affect your score) and also the clinically credible Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT), prefereably the long form, which was created by researchers from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts and University College in London. The short form of the CFMT was once freely available to do at a number of places on the internet, but now I believe this autism study at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) is the only place where you might access it for free: http://facetoface.mit.edu/

I’ve discovered another face memory test

It can be accessed from this page at the website of the BBC:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sleep/

I can’t find any information about which scientists might have created this test.

I had a crack at it. There seemed to be something weird going on with clicking on answers, but it did work.

It appears that the test measures two things – face memory and also “temporal memory” which seems to be the ability to judge when you saw the image, rather than whether or not you saw it.

My scores were “Recognition score 200% Average score 92%” and “Temporal memory score 91% Average score 68%”

I’m not quite sure what the 200% means, but in the details of my results of the test it says I recognized all 48 photos in both 24 photo sets, so I guess it means I got a perfect score twice for each set of photos. I found the basic face recognition element of this test very easy, easy knowing which I had and also which photos I hadn’t seen before. I did identify one photo that I hadn’t seen previously as one that I had, but this was towards the beginning of the test and I hadn’t read the question properly and understood that I was to identify the photo, not the face. The photo which I scored as a false-positive identification was I believe a face, but not a photo that I had seen before, hence the mistake. There’s an odd discrepancy in the results given for the items not seen. The text says I got two false positives, while the responses recorded for individual items suggests I only got one false positive. I believe I only got one. The average false positive score given is one to three.

I think the fact that I only scored one (two?) false-positive identification in this face memory test shows that I do not have some type of hyperfamiliarity, misidentification or delusion disorder as a basis of my superior face recognition abilities or my experience of The Strange Phenomenon.

I thought that one of the faces shown in the test, an oldish man, looked like an old David Bowie, and another face reminded me a lot of my late father-in-law, no doubt he came from the same part of the world. But I’m sharp enough to see that these faces weren’t those of David Bowie or one of my in-laws. This is a topic that I might write about later – recognizing strong similarities between the faces of people who are not obviously connected.