A team of neuroscientists discovered that the face recognition process improves with age.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Remember when our parents and grandparents used to tell us that things get better with age? It would seem that a new research project has proven that the adage is true. A team of neuroscientists from the Stanford University has discovered that the brain area associated with face recognition grows even stronger.
Did you ever get the distinct feeling that you know someone but couldn’t exactly remember him or her? According to a new study, the chances are that you’ve already met and dealt with that person even though you can’t remember his name.
Facial recognition, our brain’s ability to process the features of another person’s face, improves as we leave childhood and enter adulthood. A new study shows that by the time a person enters adulthood and goes to college, his or her brain is capable of remembering hundreds, if not thousands of faces.
The study was performed by a team of neuroscientists from the Stanford University, led by Jesse Gomez, a graduate student in neurosciences. Gomez and his team focused on a specific area of the brain, solely devoted to recognizing facial traits.
The study’s lead researcher said that available medical literature is somewhat sketchy when talking about what happens in our brain after we reach the age of three. Since face recognition is one of the first skills developed by our brains, naturally the need to learn more about it arises.
To figure out how our brain is capable of handling that much information, Gomez and his team set out to study this area in children and adult. For the purpose of the study, the team enrolled the help 22 children and 25 adults. Each of them underwent an MRI.
As Gomez explains, there is a vital stage in brain development called synapse pruning. When we leave childhood and enter adulthood, our brain begins its own version of spring cleaning – eliminating redundant synapses and strengthening others.
The area of the brain in charge of face recognition also undergoes the process of synapse pruning. However, the team has discovered that although this area does not grow new synapses, the available ones become thicker and the pathways more complex, as to allow our brain to process and recognize thousands of faces.
In the end, Gomez said that this study is pivotal in understanding complex neurological conditions such as facial blindness or why patients with autism spectrum disorder are having trouble remember a familiar face.
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