People remember unfamiliar faces best between ages 30 and 34

Washington: If you think that memory fades away with age, you may be wrong, for a new study has revealed that people remember unfamiliar faces best between ages 30 and 34.

In online experiments with 44,680 volunteers, ages 10 to 70, researchers have found that face memory hits its prime shortly after age 30.

"Specialized face-processing in the brain may require an extended period of visual tuning during early adulthood to help individuals learn and recognize lots of different faces," Discovery News quoted Laura Germine of Harvard University, as saying.

The new findings make it evident that a brain structure critical for face recognition-the fusiform gyrus-undergoes reorganization at least through young adulthood, commented Isabel Gauthier of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

"What is somewhat surprising is that there is still room for improvement after years of learning faces," said Gauthier.

Germine and colleagues created an online face-recognition test, using six computer-generated faces of young, adult white males as targets.

Participants first saw three differently aligned images of a target face, with each image shown for three seconds. They then viewed a lineup showing the target face and two other male faces posed in a new direction, and tried to pick the target.

After repeating this test for all six target faces, participants tried to identify target faces in 54 more lineups, with faces shown in novel views and under various lighting conditions.

Face recognition improved sharply on this test from age 10 to 20.

Performance increased at a slower pace after age 20, reaching a zenith of 83 percent correct responses for study volunteers between ages 30 and 34.

The findings were reported in the Cognition.


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