Tag Archives: The Met

New Statesman article about supers from last year

Rice, Xan The super-recognisers of Scotland Yard. New Statesman. August 2 2016.

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/uk/2016/08/super-recognisers-scotland-yard

 

Advertisements

Not one but four recently published studies of super-recognition!!!!

And all bar one are open access! Please readers let me know if there are more studies on supers out there.

 

Bobak A, Parris B, Gregory N, Bennetts R, Bate S (2016) Eye-Movement Strategies in Developmental Prosopagnosia and “Super” Face Recognition. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. Posted online: 02 Mar 2016. DOI:10.1080/17470218.2016.1161059

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17470218.2016.1161059

The above paper interesting as it apparently supports the idea that developmental prosopagnosia is a heterogeneous condition and at least the most severe cases are not simply the bottom end of a spectrum of ability. The authors do seem to regard supers as the top end of a spectrum though. Researchers also found that supers and able controls spent more time looking at noses, a finding which I think I recall from another study. It makes sense to me as I feel that great face recognition ability is an automatic and involuntary process (like synaesthesia) that involves perception of the face as a whole “landscape”.

 

Bobak AK, Dowsett AJ, Bate S (2016) Solving the Border Control Problem: Evidence of Enhanced Face Matching in Individuals with Extraordinary Face Recognition Skills. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0148148. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0148148

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0148148

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4735453/

 

Bobak AK, Hancock PJB, Bate S. Super-recognisers in Action: Evidence from Face-matching and Face Memory Tasks. Applied Cognitive Psychology. 2016;30:81–91. doi: 10.1002/acp.3170

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/acp.3170/epdf

 

Robertson DJ, Noyes E, Dowsett AJ, Jenkins R, Burton AM (2016) Face Recognition by Metropolitan Police Super-Recognisers. PLoS ONE 11(2): e0150036. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150036

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0150036

 

Anna Bobak and Dr Sarah Bate have been busy!

 

Radio story from BBC in October 2015 about supers and the Met

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0356fvj

This week’s New Scientist has cover story about super-recognizers

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22830484-800-super-recognisers-could-be-used-to-identify-strangers-in-cctv/

Wow, I just lost all respect for The Met

…which is a pity as the Metropolitan Police in London are apparently world leaders in the use of super-recognizers in law enforcement.

Coghlan, Andy Expert witness on “shaken baby syndrome” faces misconduct charge. New Scientist. October 6th 2015, amended October 7th 2015.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn28291-expert-witness-on-shaken-baby-syndrome-faces-misconduct-charge/

 

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!

Story about facial recognition on ABC’s Catalyst tonight left me wondering where the rest of the story was

It seems very odd to me that this television story from Australia’s ABC about face recognition technology and its possible applications to forensic/law enforcement work opened with some compelling images of the 2011 England Riots, but failed to mention the apparently successful application of human face recognition specialists (super-recognizers) by the Metropolitan Police in London to interpreting CCTV images of those riots. Superrecognisers weren’t mentioned at all in the Catalyst report, an important omission, and the value of human face recognition was dismissed lightly by Professor Brian Lovell from the University of Queensland. Prof. Lovell’s areas of expertise are electrical engineering and computer science, so one might not expect him to know a lot about human face recognition. The world’s leaders in research in human face memory and face recognition are generally psychologists. The reporter Anja Taylor chose to focus solely on Australian interviewees and argued that “new facial recognition technology promises crime fighters their greatest gift.” There seem to be a number of contradictions between reporting by Catalyst and media in the UK about the forensic use of CCTV images of the English riots. Catalyst’s technophilic and Austro-centric perspective is a questionable treatment of the subject but I’m not surprised, as I’ve been viewing Catalyst for long enough to realise that it is primarily a bit of light entertainment from the ABC that gives Australian researchers opportunities promote their latest work. I found it quite amusing that the journalist presented face recognition tasks which average humans do rountinely and with ease, tasks such as identifying faces in poor images and identifying a moving face while tracking it, as miracles of technology when a computer system performs these tasks.

It appears that Australia doesn’t have science journalists working in the electronic media, we just have a small group of slick and entertaining radio and TV presenters who have lots of contacts in science and academia. Don’t we deserve better?

May 5th 2012 – Maybe I shouldn’t be quite as harsh about the standard of journalism at Catalyst. I’ve been watching a repeat of last week’s episode of Catalyst, and the report by Anja Taylor about the phenomenon of mass tree deaths and diseases in response to rising temperatures and drought seemed to be excellent work on a very important issue. I can’t claim much knowledge of the subject, but I thought it was good. Taylor interviewed not just one or two, but many different scientists working in various areas of ecological science, and I think it might just be the case that more effort in this report resulted in a better piece of journalism. I just wish Catalyst would stop producing journalism that isn’t done with as much care and effort.

Facial Recognition. Catalyst. Reporter: Anja Taylor. 3 May 2012. http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/3494034.htm

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.

Recent TV news story about “Police super-recognisers” from ITV

Unfortunately I can’t view this as it is blocked for viewing by people from outside the UK, and I live in Australia. I think they call it “geoblocking” or “geo-blocking”. I’m not sure why they do it.

It appears that Dr Josh Davis, a researcher from the University of Greenwich who has been studying the elite squad of super-recognizers at London’s Metropolitan Police, was interviewed for this story. I really would be interested in viewing this story. It would be handy if someone would upload it to YouTube, or something. Dr Davis has already been researching the identification of faces in CCTV images for a number of years, so I would think he could certianly be regarded as an expert in the area.

Police super-recognisers. reporter Sharon Thomas London Tonight. London Regional News. ITV. Tue Feb 28 2012 http://www.itv.com/london/police-super-recognisers19305/

Dr Josh Davis http://www.gre.ac.uk/schools/health/contact/staff/pc/josh-davis

May 2012 – I’ve found a link that appears to give video of the story in a number of different segments:

POLICE / CRIME: London riots 2011: Police ‘Super Recognisers’ track down rioters. ITN Source. February 28th 2012. http://www.itnsource.com/en/jp/shotlist/ITN/2012/02/28/T28021245/?v=0&a=1

June 2012 – I found this quote from a Feb 2012 news webpage from the University of Greenwich http://www.gre.ac.uk/offices/pr/wtps/what-the-papers-say-february-2012

“Dr Josh Davis appeared on ITV London Tonight where he said that he thought super-recognisers, able to identify people from grainy and incomplete CCTV images, were born rather than trained. Members of the police with these skills have been tracking down rioters.”

Short article published this month about a super-recognizer police constable

Davenport, Justin Super-recognisers track down rioters. London Evening Standard. February 6th 2012.   http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-24033499-super-recognisers-track-down-rioters.do