It has long been thought that as far as our brains are concerned, everything starts to go downhill once you reach adulthood.
All those long foggy student nights drinking all the wine finally catch up with us and the slow process of pruning those neurons begins.
Well it turns out that this isn’t strictly true as one part of our brain actually continues to grow, even well into adulthood
It is the part of our brain that’s responsible for facial recognition, thus essentially helping us prevent one of life’s most agonising social faux pas.
Scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine used quantitative magnetic resonance imaging to compare brain tissue between 22 children and 25 adults.
What they found was that in adults the region of the brain that helps recognise faces had increased, while the part of the brain that recognises places had remained the same.
Interacting with other humans in a social environment is by far one of our most important skills, so it actually makes some sense that our brains have evolved to help us do this better.
By better of course we mean actually being able to go to work and remember most of the names of the people you work with (within a reasonable three desk rows of course).
Remarkably we’re only just starting to learn more about how our brains are able to recognise other human beings, with a recent study finding that we actually really struggle with any face that doesn’t fit our pre-conceived templates.
Show a person a picture of someone’s face upside down however and rather than going straight to the facial recognition area of the brain we start activating the object recognition region as well.
What’s really remarkable however is how quickly our brains are able to determine what is a ‘normal face’ in the first place and that’s where scientists believe neural networks come into play.
Prof. Ryusuke Kakigi of the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Japan says, “In this research, we have found that not only brain areas that execute face recognition but also brain areas that had been considered non-essential to face recognition are important for “normal face” recognition.”
The Coolest Science Photos Of The Decade:
2014NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University), and Z. Levay (STScI)
2012Hadoram Shirihai/Tubenoses project
2011Wikimedia Commons: Wtop.com
2010NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
2009Sung Hoon Kang, Joanna Aizenberg and Boaz Pokroy; Harvard University
2007Gloria Kwon/NIKON Small World
2005Charles Krebs/NIKON Small World