Tag Archives: Science (journal)

Surprising explanation for why face recognition matures unusually late in human development!

I didn’t expect to be reading this but I can recognize that this discovery seems to explain why face recognition is human cognitive ability that hits its peak surprisingly late in human development, and I’m now wondering how this fits into my theories about the relationship between my super-recognition and my synaesthesia, and that includes wondering how this discovery fits with my immune hypothesis of synaesthesia (which is all about pruning rather than proliferation), and of course I’m wondering how this fits in with what is known about super-recognizers. I guess I should just calm down and read the full text.

Coghlan, Andy Brain’s face recognition area grows much bigger as we get older. New Scientist. January 5th 2017.

Jesse Gomez, Michael A. Barnett, Vaidehi Natu, Aviv Mezer, Nicola Palomero-Gallagher, Kevin S. Weiner, Katrin Amunts, Karl Zilles, Kalanit Grill-Spector Microstructural proliferation in human cortex is coupled with the development of face processing. Science. January 6th 2017.



Oops, I followed a wrong turn in the path of scientific progress

There I was getting excited about research into embodied cognition and I was observing how much it seemed to resemble types of synaesthesia that I experience which are triggered by spatial experience or movement, and I read a book about embodied cognition and was very impressed, but then I read the below article in Science about projects with the aim of replicating some influential studies in psychology and social psychology, some of them about embodied cognition, and apparently a number of studies that were thought to demonstrate embodied cognition and also behaviour priming were re-studied but the findings were not replicated. These recent studies attempting to replicate classic studies in social psychology were published in the latest issue of the journal Social Psychology. Even worse, one pioneer in the area of embodied cogniton is facing accusations of research misconduct, according to the Science article. Could the field of embodied cognition be saved from oblivion by looking for effects that can be replicated, and then considering them a possible variants of synaesthesia?

Bohannon, John Replication effort provokes praise—and ‘bullying’ charges. Science. 23 May 2014: Vol. 344 no. 6186 pp. 788-789
DOI: 10.1126/science.344.6186.788


Nosek, Brian A. and  Lakens, Daniël (guest editors) Social Psychology. Volume 45 Number 3 2014.



Backs up my ideas

I was reading through back issues of New Scientist, and I found a brief article about the work of researcher Sophie Scott and other researchers, written by Simon Makin. This article is about one theory of dyslexia winning out over another. The theory that seems to be the most compatible with recent research findings is the theory of dyslexia as a “disconnection syndrome” resulting from poor connections between particular regions in the brain. The competing theory of dyslexia as a disability stemming from subtle problems with hearing speech sounds is apparently being debunked.

What relevance does this have for my theories and ideas about synaesthesia and visual perception? The theory of dyslexia as a problem of hypoconnectivity in the brain is not new, but it is nice to see it winning favour among researchers because it fits well with observations that I made years ago at this blog that there seems to be a cluster of phenomena linked to grapheme-colour synaesthesia in my family, and some of those phenomena are exceptional gifts in specific areas of literacy, including spelling, writing and reading, identified by professional and independent testing for selective school entry, as well as precocious reading and one case of superior face memory (a super-recognizer). A few years ago at this blog I contrasted this combination of literacy and visual memory gifts found along with synaesthesia (a sensory-perception phenomenon that researchers have found is caused by greater than average connectivity in the brain) with what I have argued is the opposite condition of a type of dementia named Benson’s syndrome which has loss of ability to read, spell and recognize faces as symptoms of atrophy at the back of the brain, the general area of the brain that I theorized is hyper-developed or hyper-connected in some members of my family, including myself. Although dyslexia isn’t the same thing as Benson’s I think the evidence about dyslexia fits in nicely with my ideas. If a reading disability is caused by hypoconnectivity in the brain, that does seem to support my idea that reading superiority can be caused by the same difference that makes a brain a synaesthete brain, that difference being hyperconnectivity. The hypoconnected dyslexic looks like the opposite of the hyperconnected synaesthete who has always been ahead of his or her peers in reading and writing, and perhaps even taught him or herself to read before grade one.

Competition between reading and face recognition?

A box of text at the side of an interesting article about the promising new idea of “perceptual learning” in education in New Scientist magazine (from January this year) included a suggestion that literacy can interfere with face recognition ability, citing a paper by Stanislas Dehaene and other researchers which was published in 2010 in the journal Science. Dehaene is the author of the brilliant and readable book titled Reading in the Brain: the science and evolution of a human invention, which I have previously written about at this blog, and he is also a French professor who has expertise in the area of the neural basis of reading.

I’ve taken a look at the abstract of that journal paper (which is also available to read in full text on the internet) and I’m not sure that an interpretation that literacy is a burden on the brain is justifiable, as it appears that learning how to read enhances responses in a number of different parts of the brain, including enhancement of “visual responses in fusiform and occipital cortex…” I probably shouldn’t make too many conclusions after merely reading an abstract of a research report paper, especially in light of the fact that I’m not a qualified researcher or scientist myself. Nevertheless, perhaps this research supports my claims that there’s a close association between the different abilities in reading faces and in reading text, and that there is a link between my superior face memory, my synaesthesia which I share with some first-degree relatives, and the above-average and precocious literacy abilities that are found in myself and my fellow synaesthete relatives, and that the fusiform gyrus is the part of the brain that is the basis of these connected abilities. It would be interesting to know whether prosopagnosia and dyslexia are found together more often than one would expect by chance. I doubt that literacy can be blamed for any impairment in face recognition.

Stanislas Dehaene, Felipe Pegado, Lucia W. Braga, Paulo Ventura, Gilberto Nunes Filho, Antoinette Jobert, Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz, Régine Kolinsky, José Morais, Laurent Cohen How Learning to Read Changes the Cortical Networks for Vision and Language. Science.  Published Online November 11 2010 December 3rd 2010 Vol. 330 no. 6009 pp.1359-1364 DOI: 10.1126/science.1194140 http://www.soniclearning.com.au/documents/Seminars/DeHaene—how-reading-changes-the-brain2.aspx    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6009/1359.abstract

Aldhous, Peter Learning without remembering. New Scientist. January 21st 2012 Number 2848 p.42-45. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21328482.100-learning-without-remembering-brain-lab-goes-to-school.html