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Surprising Science

Never Forget A Face? This Test Is For You

Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis are using crowdsourcing to gather data on people's ability to learn names and faces.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Mary Pyc and her team of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis are inviting people to take a 10-minute test — available both online and in an app format for smartphones and tablets — that will measure the user’s ability to remember names and faces. In the first part of the test, 56 pictures of faces with names appear for two seconds each. In the second part, taken one day later, the user is shown a series of faces with names and asked to identify whether they recognize each one. Once they’ve finished, users can compare their results with other test-takers to see how their skills measure up.

What’s the Big Idea?

Various studies have attempted to understand how the brain processes faces. In this case, the team decided to take a crowd-sourced approach to data gathering — creating a site and app that anyone can access — in hopes of attracting a much more diverse participant set. Pyc says, “As an added bonus, learning faces and names is something everyone does every day, so we believed people would be interested to see how good they are at it compared to other people.” 

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