Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 252–257 | Cite as

Super-recognizers: People with extraordinary face recognition ability

Brief Reports

Abstract

We tested 4 people who claimed to have significantly better than ordinary face recognition ability. Exceptional ability was confirmed in each case. On two very different tests of face recognition, all 4 experimental subjects performed beyond the range of control subject performance. They also scored significantly better than average on a perceptual discrimination test with faces. This effect was larger with upright than with inverted faces, and the 4 subjects showed a larger “inversion effect” than did control subjects, who in turn showed a larger inversion effect than did developmental prosopagnosics. This result indicates an association between face recognition ability and the magnitude of the inversion effect. Overall, these “super-recognizers” are about as good at face recognition and perception as developmental prosopagnosics are bad. Our findings demonstrate the existence of people with exceptionally good face recognition ability and show that the range of face recognition and face perception ability is wider than has been previously acknowledged.

References

  1. Barton, J. J. S., Cherkasova, M. V., Press, D. Z., Intriligator, J. M., & O’Connor, M. (2003). Developmental prosopagnosia: A study of three patients. Brain & Cognition, 51, 12–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Behrmann, M., & Avidan, G. (2005). Congenital prosopagnosia: Face-blind from birth. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9, 180–187.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. de Gelder, B., & Rouw, R. (2000). Configural face processes in acquired and developmental prosopagnosia: Evidence for two separate face systems? NeuroReport, 11, 3145–3150.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Duchaine, B., Germine, L., & Nakayama, K. (2007). Family resemblance: Ten family members with prosopagnosia and within-class object agnosia. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 24, 419–430.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Duchaine, B., & Nakayama, K. (2006a). The Cambridge Face Memory Test: Results for neurologically intact individuals and an investigation of its validity using inverted performance and prosopagnosic subjects. Neuropsychologia, 44, 576–585.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Duchaine, B., & Nakayama, K. (2006b). Developmental prosopagnosia: A window to content-specific face processing. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 16, 166–173.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Duchaine, B., Yovel, G., Butterworth, E. J., & Nakayama, K. (2006). Prosopagnosia as an impairment to face-specific mechanisms: Elimination of the alternative hypotheses in a developmental case. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 23, 714–747.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kennerknecht, I., Grueter, T., Welling, B., Wentzek, S., Horst, J., Edwards, S., & Grueter, M. (2006). First report of prevalence of syndromic hereditary prosopagnosia (HPA). American Journal of Medical Genetics, 140A, 1617–1622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kress, T., & Daum, I. (2003). Event-related potentials reflect impaired face recognition in patients with congenital prosopagnosia. Neuroscience Letters, 352, 133–136.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Le Grand, R., Cooper, P. A., Mondloch, C. J., Lewis, T. L., Sagiv, N., de Gelder, B., & Maurer, D. (2006). What aspects of face processing are impaired in developmental prosopagnosia? Brain & Cognition, 61, 139–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. McConachie, H. R. (1976). Developmental prosopagnosia: A single case report. Cortex, 12, 76–82.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Megreya, A. M., & Burton, A. M. (2006). Unfamiliar faces are not faces: Evidence from a matching task. Memory & Cognition, 34, 865–876.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Morgan, C. A., III, Hazlett, G., Baranoski, M., Doran, A., Southwick, S., & Loftus, E. (2007). Accuracy of eyewitness identification is significantly associated with performance on a standardized test of face recognition. International Journal of Law & Psychiatry, 30, 213–223.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nakayama, K., Garrido, L., Russell, R., Chabris, C. F., Gerbasi, M., & Duchaine, B. C. (2006). Developmental prosopagnosia: Phenotypes and estimated prevalence. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts, No. 702.9.Google Scholar
  15. Wells, G. L., & Olson, E. A. (2003). Eyewitness testimony. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 277–295.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Wilhelm, O., Herzmann, G., Kunina, O., & Sommer, W. (2007). Face cognition: A set of distinct mental abilities. Available from Nature Precedings at http://hdl.handle.net/10101/npre.2007.1385.1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridge
  2. 2.University College LondonLondonEngland

Personalised recommendations