Finding it hard to place a face? Blame genes

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iol scitech oct 31 genes

London - If you struggle to recognise faces, blame your parents.

A study shows the ability to recognise people can be inherited, with 60 percent of the trait down to your genes.

Experts have long debated whether facial recognition is innate to humans and evolved as a survival mechanism, or a skill that relates to the ability to remember objects.

Face “blindness” – the inability to recognise people – afflicts a minority including brain injury victims, while others are able to pick out in a crowd someone they have seen only once before.

The study by King’s College London – to be presented at the British Psychological Society Conference in Birmingham – suggests it is a distinct human skill, separate from a general ability to recognise objects, and can be inherited.

Researchers carried out psychological tests involving 1 000 pairs of twins – some identical (sharing all their genes) and some fraternal (only sharing half). They found that facial recognition was 60 percent inherited.

Nicholas Shakeshaft, from King’s College, said: “Genes are a significant influence because it’s more than 50 percent. It means, on average, having a parent or both parents who are good at recognising faces increases the odds that you will be.”

People who are good at recognising faces also have better “social intelligence” – the ability to recognise emotions from others’ faces and behaviour – than those who are better at recognising objects such as cars, according to the researchers. - Daily Mail

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