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Law Enforcement Agencies Recruit Rare People Who are 'Super-Recognizers' of Faces

Sunday January 16, 2022. 04:34 PM , from Slashdot
An anonymous reader shared this report on 'Super-Recognizers' from a series of articles in the Guardian called 'Meet the Superhumans.'
As a child, Yenny Seo often surprised her mother by pointing out a stranger in the grocery store, remarking it was the same person they passed on the street a few weeks earlier. Likewise, when they watched a movie together, Seo would often recognise 'extras' who'd appeared fleetingly in other films... A cohort of just 1-2% of the population are 'super-recognisers' — people who can memorise and recall unfamiliar faces, even after the briefest glimpse.

The underlying cause is still not entirely clear — it's a new field, with only around 20 scientific papers studying super-recognisers. However, it is suspected genetics plays a role because identical twins show similar performance, and it has been shown that cortical thickness — the amount of neurons — in the part of the brain that supports face recognition is a predictor of superior ability. Because it's such a rare phenomenon, in 2017 Dr. David White, now a lead investigator at the Face Research Lab at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and his colleagues designed a publicly available online screening tool to try to unearth the world's best super-recognisers. Seo, then in her mid-twenties, gave it a go — and her score was so high, White invited her to come to Sydney for more testing.

With more than 100,000 people now tested, Seo still ranks in the top 50....

Over the past decade, security and law enforcement agencies around the world have started recruiting people with superior facial recognition capabilities. London's metropolitan police has a special team who examine CCTV footage from crime scenes — they were used in the investigation into the poisoning of a former Russian spy with the nerve agent Novichok in Salisbury — and several years ago Queensland police started identifying super-recognisers in its ranks. A proliferation of private agencies has also sprung up, offering the services of super-recognisers.

Seo has no interest....

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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