Tag Archives: University of Western Australia

Leading researchers and prosopagnosics on Australian radio show about the extremes of face memory ability

Malcolm, Lynne What’s in a face? Prosopagnosia. All in the Mind. Radio National. February 19th 2017.

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/whats-in-a-face-prosopagnosia/8269742

 

Dean, Diane Prosopagnosia: What it’s like to live with ‘face blindness’. ABC News. February 20th 2017.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-19/what-its-like-to-live-with-face-blindness/8279990

 

There’s a link to the Cambridge Face Memory Test at the webpage for the radio show.

Sad but not surprising that prosopagnosics can be mistakenly perceived as having a personality issue rather than a perception issue.

I’ve got an anecdote that is rather like the opposite of the one shared by Dr Karl in the radio show, in which he came to understand that he had an unusual problem in recognizing fellow-students at university. Just this week I recognized (with no foreknowledge) a student that I once shared a tutorial group with when the student made a very brief appearance as an actor in a television advertisement. Nice! I wish him the best of luck in his acting career. He was working in a series of health promotion ads that consistently feature better acting than that often seen on the TV shows.

In case you are wondering, the music used in the radio show were two hits of the 70’s; that famous tune by Grace Jones and at the end the big hit by Roberta Flack.

The search for an effective intervention for prosopagnosia continues, but at least the knowledge of what is going on must be some help to people who face this challenge.

 

 

Prosopagnosia report on Sunday Night on Australian commercial TV this weekend

Preview at link below. Apparently a face perception researcher from Western Australia will be featured in the report, as well as Australian celebrity prosopagnosic, pop science book author and science popularizer Dr Karl Kruszelnicki. This sounds good, but at the same time, this is pretty-much tabloid TV so I have limited expectations for this report. The promo looks sensationalist and misleading, with the use of the inaccurate term “face blindness” rather than prosopagnosia, along with misleading illustration of the concept with blanked-out faces in the promo, making it look as though prosopagnosia is a perceptual problem rather than a visual memory problem. I think it should be called face memory deficit disorder or something similar. I’ll be watching with interest anyway.

https://au.news.yahoo.com/sunday-night/video/watch/32997678/this-week-face-blindness/#page1

Influence of cross-race effect and anxiety on face recognition in Australian study

A pity this science news article does not include a link to the study, as the results sound interesting.

I wonder how a super-recognizer might have fared as a study subject in this study? Would supers have the self-confidence to avoid the impairment in performance that comes with anxiety, while not being so over-confident that they fail to take the extra care to see through racial bias while memorizing and recalling foreign faces? Are metacognitive skills an element of super-recognition? Could this be a clue to why face memory is a cognitive ability that peaks in performance at a remarkably late age in human development? (Please remember, readers in academia, that if you use without acknowledgement original ideas that you have read at this blog, I will not be pleased at all.)

Payne, Rob Anxiety increases error, but not bias, in facial recognition. Science Network. November 20th 2015.

http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/social-science/item/3909-anxiety-increases-error-but-not-bias-in-facial-recognition

 

Colour-blindness a variation in visual perception ability possibly endowing advantages relevant to work performance, rather than simply a disability

Payne, Rob Colour-blindness may aid in search and rescue effort. Science Network. November 11th 2015.
http://www.sciencewa.net.au/topics/health-a-medicine/item/3902-colour-blindness-may-aid-in-search-and-rescue-efforts

The idea that colour-blindness can be advantagous is not new to me, as last year I watched with great interest a story on ABC24’s News Breakfast in which the colour-blind presenter Michael Rowland explained his advantage over people with normal colour vision in visually detecting camouflaged items. Unfortunately the clip of this story is no longer available to view.

Vision scientist explains colour blindness. ABC News Breakfast. 7 Apr 2014.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-04-07/vision-scientist-explains-colour-blindness/5371294

 

Looking far into the future…..

I can predict that a fascinating paper about the development of face and body recognition abilities in children will be published in a journal in September of this year.

Face and body recognition show similar improvement during childhood.
Samantha Bank, Gillian Rhodes, Ainsley Read, Linda Jeffery,
ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and Its Disorders, School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
Received 19 December 2014, Available online 20 April 2015

Journal of Experimental Child Psychology. Volume 137 September 2015, Pages 1–11.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022096515000703

For important people only

I’ve just discovered the details of this “by invitation only” workshop that was scheduled for February past. I’m guessing the subject of the event was the Perth face-space project, which I have written about previously, but the description of the event seems deliberately vague.

http://www.conferenceonline.com/site_templet/images/group6/site36/Faces%20of%20Western%20Australia%20Flyer%20(6).pdf

http://scienceontheswan.com.au/?pgid=534

 

Story about Oxford Uni researcher developing computer facial recognition of rare diseases on ABC radio

I just discovered this story from the Science Show on ABC Radio National from earlier this month about researcher Christoffer Nellåker. It sounds a lot to me like the kind of research that researchers in Perth, Western Australia have been busy with in the Perth Face-Space Project.

I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again; I’m bemused that so much effort and research is continuing to be put into very sophisticated efforts to create systems for recognizing genetic disorders and diseases in facial appearances, involving sophisticated computer algorithms and photography, to do a job that any super-recognizer could be trained to do with I expect little time and effort. In fact I expect that super-recognizers and people with average levels of face recognition ability naturally have unconsciously-used skills at detecting facial dysmorphology. Who couldn’t pick a case of Down’s syndrome in a crowd, regardless of age or gender? And Treacher Collins is hard to miss, and easy enough to name once you know what it is. I get the point that some of the diseases that can be detected in the face are exceedingly rare, and therefore even a medical specialist would have little or nothing in the way of familiarity with the typical appearance linked to the disease, but I would think it is also true that for any medical case a short-list of diseases will be identified during the diagnostic process, and for each of those diseases, regardless of rarity, there should be some kind of photographic record that can be accessed and studied, and compared against the appearance of the patient. Whichever way you look at it, this job needn’t be rocket science, but as is so often the case, people feel more comfortable in placing their faith in the performance computer system than the skill of a person.

Williams, Robyn Identifying rare diseases from facial images. Science Show. Radio National ABC. December 6th 2014. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/scienceshow/identifying-rare-diseases-from-facial-images/5947924

Saw, Samantha Defining normal. InkWire. April 17, 2014. http://inkwirenews.com.au/2014/04/17/defining-normal/

Australian study finds evidence suggesting that use of recreational drug ecstasy will damage face perception ability

White, Claire, Edwards, Mark, Brown, John and Bell, Jason The impact of recreational MDMA ‘ecstasy’ use on global form processing. Journal of Psychopharmacology. August 20, 2014

Published online before print August 20, 2014, doi: 10.1177/0269881114546709

http://jop.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/08/18/0269881114546709.abstract?rss=1

 

Yeang, Lily Ecstasy use affects ability to detect faces, shapes and patterns. ScienceNetwork Western Australia.

http://www.sciencewa.net.au//topics/health-a-medicine/item/3085-ecstasy-use-affects-ability-to-detect-faces-shapes-and-patterns

 

One should bear in mind that this study only used a small number of long-term ecstasy users as subjects (6) and these people also used other drugs, which could have had an influence, and it appears that actual faces or images of faces were not a part of the study, which tested the type of visual processing of which face processing is apparently one example. The full text of the study is behind a paywall, so I’ve not yet read it in full. The study is certainly interesting, as it displays internal consistency in the findings which are also apparently compatible with the findings of other studies.

This study is just another good reason why the testing of visual processing, including abilities such as face memory and global form processing, should ideally be an element of the job recruitment selection process for many jobs. “If global form processing is damaged or deficient then our speed and accuracy in recognizing objects in the environment, and our ability to navigate amongst those objects, will be impaired.” So does that mean that long-term ecstasy users aren’t OK to operate heavy machinery or to drive? I think it is anyone’s guess, and there is no law enforcement or job screening process that I am aware of that is likely to detect people with this kind of visual processing disability, until they have a crash. If you know otherwise, please leave a comment and we we’ll all be the wiser.

University of Western Australia researchers’ model of face gender published in PLoS ONE

Garland, Carys Face ‘model’ accurately weighs gender points. ScienceNetwork WA. July 6th 2014.

http://www.sciencewa.net.au//topics/social-science/item/2931-face-model-accurately-weighs-gender-points

The mathematical model of face gender that these UWA researchers have come up with seems like a sensible enough idea to me (and who am I to criticise?) but I’m very doubtful of just about everything stated about face gender and its relation to autism that is written in the Science Network article.

Gilani SZ, Rooney K, Shafait F, Walters M, Mian A (2014) Geometric Facial Gender Scoring: Objectivity of Perception. PLoS ONE 9(6): e99483. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0099483

 

Another type of thing that can be recognized visually, with useful applications

Do I have this right? The daughter who had been callously abandoned by the Englishman who migrated to Australia and became the Chief Librarian at the Reid Library at the University of Western Australia discovered a letter that was supposed to have been written by herself, but she knew she hadn’t written it, and she recognized the handwriting as that of her father’s second wife, who was the Perth literary identity and celebrated Australian writer Elizabeth Jolley? Well, I guess if I have that right it proves the personal importance and the forensic and historical utility of another type of visual recognition and visual memory – handwriting recognition. I doubt that personality can be read in handwriting, but it certainly gives a good clue to the identity of the writer.

I was once a student at UWA and I’ve spent many a happy hour reading at the Reid Library. I’ve also volunteered as a study subject a number of times at “U-dub”. I also studied at the institution of higher learning which produced the calendar shown behind Elizabeth Jolley in a photo shown in the Australian Story episode linked to below. In the 1980s I lived next door to people who knew Jolley as a friend and who celebrated her literary career. Am I shocked or surprised that a hero of 1980s Perth had a definitely sinister side? Nope. I’m also old enough to remember watching friends and family waving and cheering on the footpath on a bend of Stirling Highway in Cottesloe, some time in the 1980s, as an open car was driven past carrying a group of local heroes. I can still see Alan Bond’s smiling face like it was yesterday. Was Brian Burke also in that car? Perth has always been one crooked town.

http://www.abc.net.au/austory/specials/lettersfromelizabeth/default.htm