Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Genes responsible for ability to recognize faces

Date:
February 24, 2010
Source:
University College London
Summary:
The ability to recognize faces is largely determined by your genes, according to new research. Scientists found that identical twins were twice as similar to each other in terms of their ability to recognize faces, compared to non-identical twins. Researchers also found that the genetic effects that allow people to recognize faces are linked to a highly specific mechanism in the brain, unrelated to other brain processes such as the ability to recognize words or abstract art.

Cambridge Face Memory Test.
Credit: Image courtesy of University College London

The ability to recognise faces is largely determined by your genes, according to new research at UCL (University College London).

Related Articles


Published February 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists found that identical twins were twice as similar to each other in terms of their ability to recognise faces, compared to non-identical twins.

Researchers also found that the genetic effects that allow people to recognise faces are linked to a highly specific mechanism in the brain, unrelated to other brain processes such as the ability to recognise words or abstract art.

"Face recognition is a skill that we depend on daily and considerable variability exists in the ability to recognize faces. Our results show that genetic differences are responsible for the great majority of the difference in face recognition ability between people," said Dr Brad Duchaine from UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, a co-author of the paper.

The study consisted of 164 identical twins, who share all of their genes, and 125 non-identical same-sex twins, who share 50% of their genes. All the participants took the Cambridge Face Memory Test*, which measures ability to learn six faces and then recognise them in novel poses and lighting.

Scientists examined the similarity between scores for both types of twin pairs. The correlation for identical twin pairs was 0.70, whereas the correlation for non-identical twins was less than half that, at 0.29. This difference indicates that the similarity in identical twin pairs is due to their shared genes, rather than shared family environment.

"We are excited about this finding because the brain mechanisms carrying out face recognition are fairly well understood, meaning that the high heritability of face recognition could provide a good opportunity to connect genes to brain mechanisms and then to behaviour," added Dr Duchaine.

The study also investigated whether these brain processes were specific to recognising faces, or more general recognition processes. Twins and a large cohort of non-twins did the Cambridge Face Memory Test and two other tests; one which required recognizing previously learned words and the other required recognizing previously learned abstract art. The results showed that these abilities were only weakly related to face recognition ability.

* An online version of the Cambridge Face Memory Test is available for members of the public to test themselves: http://www.faceblind.org/facetests/index.php


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University College London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University College London. "Genes responsible for ability to recognize faces." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100222161845.htm>.
University College London. (2010, February 24). Genes responsible for ability to recognize faces. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100222161845.htm
University College London. "Genes responsible for ability to recognize faces." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100222161845.htm (accessed March 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain and Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) European researchers say our smartphone use offers scientists an ideal testing ground for human brain plasticity. Dr Ako Ghosh&apos;s team discovered that the brains and thumbs of smartphone users interact differently from those who use old-fashioned handsets. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Many Don't Know They Have Alzheimer's, But Their Doctors Do

Newsy (Mar. 24, 2015) According to a new study by the Alzheimer&apos;s Association, more than half of those who have the degenerative brain disease aren&apos;t told by their doctors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

A Quick 45-Minute Nap Can Improve Your Memory

Newsy (Mar. 23, 2015) Researchers found those who napped for 45 minutes to an hour before being tested on information recalled it five times better than those who didn&apos;t. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins