Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fascinating Faces

Whether you are in education, film, novels, cars, technology, or politics, remember this:

Faces are important.

No, I don't think you get how important they are.

In Oliver Sacks' The Mind's I, Sacks cites cases of Prosopagnosia (brain damage resulting in inability to recognize faces) where other knowledge is lost as well. These cases are backed up by studies that show that, when people are asked to recognize items of their expertise (car afficianados certain models of car, nerds certain models of phone or camera, etc) the same areas that handle facial recognition in their brains start firing. (yes, there is a specific area for facial recognition in your brain - another interesting and important factoid.)

It seems that if we care about something enough, our brain will encode it as a "face" rather than as another type of knowledge.

This makes me wonder if an educational system could essentially "hack" into the facial recognition system, and get the information there more quickly, leading to faster information encoding and retrieval.

Also, a little bit of me worries about the rest of me being a mad scientist.

image from Charlie Chaplin's City Lights, used as an illustration under fair use.

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