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Remembering Faces Gets Easier As You Age

Science By
(Dimitri Otis/Stone/Getty Images)
(Dimitri Otis/Stone/Getty Images)


Scientists are no longer taking memory patterns at face value.
A recently released study suggests the process of remembering faces may actually get easier as people age.

According to the study conducted at Stanford University and reported by Science Magazine, the growth of tissue in regions of the brain specifically dedicated to facial recognition continues into adulthood, peaking at approximately the age of 30.
The study, which began 10 years ago, included 22 children, aged 5 through 12, and 25 adults, aged 22 through 28, and asked them to look at images of various places and faces. The team used MRI scans to see which areas of the brain lit up and to measure brain tissue volumes in those spots. Researchers were surprised to find brain tissues for place recognition and facial recognition – while both located in the fusiform gyrus area of the brain’s visual cortex – develop at different rates after birth.
“It’s quite surprising that this part of the brain continues to develop and change after infancy and into adulthood,” Kalanit Grill-Spector told Science, “especially when just two centimeters away, in the place-recognizing region, this doesn’t occur.”

Adults, in fact, had a 12 percent higher level of brain tissue for facial recognition than children.

The results suggest that one reason children become better at recognizing faces as they age is that this area of the brain is still developing. From an evolutionary standpoint it makes sense since as a person’s social circle expands with time, so does their need for remembering more faces. Researchers say more investigation in these areas of the brain might also shed like on other disorders.

For more on the results of the study, see Science Magazine’s report here.

RealClearLife Staff