Facial recognition: research reveals new abilities of 'super-recognisers'

David James Robertson, Ahmed Megreya, Josh P. Davis

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

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Do you never forget a face? Are you one of those people who can spot the same nameless extras across different TV programmes and adverts? Are you the family member always called on to identify or match faces in old photographs? If so, you may be a “super-recogniser” – the term science uses to describe people with an exceptional ability to recognise faces. Over the past decade, psychologists have established that our ability to recognise faces varies a lot – much like the ability to sing, for instance. While a small proportion of the population simply can’t hold a note at all, and most are content to confine their very average efforts to the shower, at the top end there are outstanding singers, such as Adele. Researchers believe the same applies to facial-recognition ability. A small proportion of people struggle to recognise friends and family (a condition known as prosopagnosia), most people are “typical recognisers”, and at the top there is a small number of people who excel at recognising faces – super-recognisers.
Original languageEnglish
No.Jan 10, 2020
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2020


  • face recognition
  • super recognisers
  • policing
  • border
  • security
  • identification

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