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Title: Theoretical and real-world applications of superior face recognition
Author: Bobak, Anna Katarzyna
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 8912
Awarding Body: Bournemouth University
Current Institution: Bournemouth University
Date of Award: 2016
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While previous work has identified the existence of people with extraordinary face recognition skills (so-called “super-recognisers”; SRs), the cognitive and perceptual underpinnings of the ability are unknown. This thesis addresses this issue, using behavioural and eye-movement measures. It also evaluates the methods used to identify SRs, their role in more applied national security settings, and ways of improving face recognition in typical perceivers. The first set of studies offers an in-depth cognitive and perceptual examination of six SRs using a case-series approach. This investigation revealed that while SRs are a heterogeneous group, they consistently show enhanced holistic processing. A second set of studies examined the eye-movements of SRs in a standard face memory task and a more ecologically valid free-viewing task. In both experiments SRs spent more time looking at the nose (i.e. the centre of faces) than typical perceivers, countering previous work that suggests the eye region is critical in facial identification. A subsequent study was aimed at establishing the UK-specific norms for dominant tests of face recognition and face perception, using a large sample of young British adults. Results suggested that females are better at face recognition than males, and that country-specific control norms are needed for these neuropsychological tests. A fourth set of studies looked at the performance of SRs on more applied face recognition tasks, replicating face matching and recognition scenarios. Results strongly suggested that some SRs are best-suited to particular tasks, and when identified correctly would make extremely valuable employees in national security settings. A final study examined if face matching and face recognition skills can be improved in typical perceivers via intranasal inhalation of the nonapeptide oxytocin, yet neither process was improved following this intervention. The theoretical and practical implications resulting from all these vi investigations are discussed, particularly in relation to our understanding of the typical face-processing system, and in making practical recommendations for the implementation of super recognition in national security settings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available