Friday, February 24, 2017

Sayings #5

1.   I like long walks, especially when they're taken by people who annoy me.
2.   I was going to wear my camouflage shirt today, but I couldn't find it.
3.   If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
4.   Sometimes I wake up grumpy; other times I let him sleep.
5.   If tomatoes are technically a fruit, is ketchup a smoothie?
6.   Money is the root of all wealth.
7.   No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.
8. I thought my brain was really unique until someone told me that every brain is.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Recognizing Faces, 7

The difficulty in recognizing faces on your own-race effect verses other races seems to be related to increased ability to extract information about the spatial relationships between different facial features. Daniel T. Levin has reportedly explained it this way: a deficit occurs when viewing people of another race because visual information specifying race takes up mental attention at the expense of individuating information when recognizing faces of other races. It will be interesting if further research using perceptual tasks can shed light on the specific cognitive processes involved in the other-race effect. Studies in 2007 led by Bernstein, found that the own-race effect likely extends beyond racial membership into concepts of in-group versus out-group. For example, research showed that categorizing somebody by the university he or she attends showed similar results compared to studies about the own-race effect. Hugenberg, Miller, and Claypool (2007) performed a study in which they introduced people to the concept of the own-race effect before presenting them with a series of differing faces. If study participants were made aware of the own-race effect prior to the experiment, the study participants showed significantly less if any own-race effect. To me, this sounds like ‘knowledge is power,’ which can enable individuals to alter their perceptions if they choose to do so.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Recognizing Faces, 6

In general, humans find it easier to recognize faces within one’s own race. That is, humans tend to perceive people of other races than their own to all look alike. As early as 1914 researchers were studying differences in own-race recognition versus other-race recognition. Other things being equal, individuals of a given race are distinguishable from each other in proportion to one’s familiarity and contact with the race as whole. To the uninitiated Caucasian, all Asians look alike; to the uninitiated Asian, most native Americans or African Americans or Caucasians look alike. This phenomenon is known by several names: cross-race effect, own-race effect, other-race effect, own race bias, interracial-face-recognition-deficit, and so on. This cross-race effect seems to appear around six months of age in human beings. Interesting, researchers have found it can be altered in early childhood through adulthood through interaction with people of other races. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Recognizing Faces, 5

Specific mental challenges appear to impact face and emotion perception. Take schizophrenia for example. When asked to match faces, remember faces, and recognize which emotions are present in a face, individuals with schizophrenia demonstrate worse accuracy and slower response time. Schizophrenia patients are able to easily identify a happy facial affect but struggle to identify faces as sad or fearful. Furthermore, the severity of schizophrenia symptoms has been found to correlate with the severity of impairment in face perception. Impairments in face and emotion perception are linked to impairments in social skills, due to the individual's inability to distinguish facial emotions Individuals with diagnoses of both schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder have been found to have even more impairment in face and emotion perception (as compared with individuals with just schizophrenia). These individuals have been found to struggle to identify anger, surprise, and disgust. There is also a link between aggression and emotion perception difficulties for people with this dual diagnosis. More tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Recognizing Faces, 4

It appears that early visual experience is important to the development of face-processing skills. At birth it is thought that a baby is able to see clearly about a foot in front of its eyes, while actual visual recognition probably takes a few weeks. Study conclusions differ in attempting to identify when a newborn can recognize its mother’s and father’s face. Some research suggests babies may be able to recognize parental faces within days of birth while other research estimates this could take up to a couple month. (If you are discussing voice recognition, some researchers believe newborns can recognize parental voices (they heard frequently during gestation) almost immediately after birth. And in terms of recognizing scent, breastfed newborns appear to become familiar with their mother's unique scent very quickly. Visual recognition skills improve rapidly, however. By the time an infant is about eight months old, he or she will likely be able to recognize parents and familiar care providers from across a room. From across a crowded room? Maybe not . . .   More tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Recognizing Faces, 3

Human brains learn to discern among the types of faces they see the most frequently. Studies at England's University of Sheffield suggest that babies are born with a broad idea of what a face is. They start out with the ability to recognize a wide range of faces, even among races or species different from their own. Fast forward to the age of nine months, however, and processing of faces narrows based on faces the babies see most often. For example, if infants are exposed mainly to Asian faces, they will gradually become less skilled at discerning among different faces of other races. Study results suggest that broad exposure to races and other species in infancy may prevent that loss of ability. The National Geographic News reported on studies that focused on face processing—the ability to recognize and categorize faces, determine identity and gender, and read emotions. Six-month-old study participants were able to recognize the faces of individuals of a different races as well as different species (e.g., monkey faces). Infants who received visual training for this retained the ability. Infants with no training lost the skill by the time they were nine months old. Their findings suggest that, in humans, this skill is another instance of "use it or lose it." More next week.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Recognizing Faces, 2

Humans find it almost impossible to recognize a face if it is upside down, or lit from an unfamiliar angle, or viewed as a photographic negative. (Interestingly, individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia are sometimes able to identify a face when seen upside down.) Some studies have shown gender differences in facial recognition. In general, men tend to recognize fewer faces of women than women do, whereas no sex differences were found with regard to male faces. When attempting the complex task of recognizing faces, nerve pathways make connections in the brain to recall memories. A person’s voice can help with facial recognition. The Seminal Model of face perception, proposes three stages of face processing including recognition of the facial features, recall of memories linked with that face, and name recall—which may or may not occur in that order. The representation of an entire face may be filed in a single neuron. This is sometimes referred to as the Jennifer Aniston phenomenon. Researchers reportedly touched a single neuron inside a person’s brain and the patient reported seeing Jennifer Aniston’s face. More tomorrow.