Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Face Recognition Tests

Oliver Sacks has an article in the current New Yorker describing his own symptoms of so-called "face blindness," or prosopagnosia. He pointed to as a good place to get more information.

Since I identified many of his experiences with some I frequently have in my own day-to-day life, I took the two on-line tests offered in the research section of

On the memory of unfamiliar faces I scored 75 per cent, or slightly below average. But on the recognition of famous faces, I identified a very low 11 per cent of those whose names were familiar to me, as the test site revealed after I'd made my choice -- either by clicking "I don't know" or by typing in a guess. Explains a lot about my inability to keep up with the characters in many of the TV series I watch, or those in movies when I watch them for the first time. To say nothing of remembering the names and faces of people I've recently met.

My difficulties are not severe -- nothing like those encountered by Dr. Sacks. But it's nevertheless a help to have something to blame my troubles on besides my own distractibility -- or, heaven forbid, laziness.

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