06/01/2017 10:39 GMT

Unexpectedly, One Part Of Our Brain Actually Keeps Growing Into Adulthood

Sadly the rest of it is doing the complete opposite 👎

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 

Ben Birchall/PA Archive

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.

Portra Images via Getty Images
Ironically in real life these stock image people probably don't actually know each other.

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:

  • 2015
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    A baby weasel took the ride of a lifetime on the back of a green woodpecker in Hornchurch Country Park in East London. Photographer Martin Le-May just happened to be lucky enough to capture the moment on March 2, 2015.
  • 2014
    NASA, ESA, H. Teplitz and M. Rafelski (IPAC/Caltech), A. Koekemoer (STScI), R. Windhorst (Arizona State University), and Z. Levay (STScI)
    Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope assembled a comprehensive picture of the evolving universe -- among the most colorful deep space images ever captured by the 25-year-old telescope. The image was released on June 3, 2014.
  • 2013
    NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins snapped a selfie while completing a spacewalk outside of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station on Dec. 24, 2013.
  • 2012
    Hadoram Shirihai/Tubenoses project
    A rare Mascarene petrel with an egg-shaped bulge in its middle. Photographed in 2012 by researchers near Reunion, an island off the coast of Madagascar, it was said to be the first to show a bird flying with a visible "baby bump."
  • 2011
    Wikimedia Commons:
    In 2011, a female Celebes crested macaque (Macaca nigra) in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, decided to pick up British wildlife photographer David Slater's camera and take a selfie.
  • 2010
    NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
    A stunning scanning electron micrograph of a human T lymphocyte (also called a T cell) from the immune system of a healthy donor, taken on May 24, 2010.
  • 2009
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    An electron microscope photograph shows self-assembling hair-like polymers around a polystyrene sphere, about two micrometers in diameter. It won first place in the National Science Foundation's 2009 International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.
  • 2008
    Hurricane Ike covers more than half of Cuba. It was taken by the Expedition 17 crew aboard the International Space Station from a vantage point of 220 miles above Earth, on September 9, 2008.
  • 2007
    Gloria Kwon/NIKON Small World
    A close-up look at a double transgenic mouse embryo, just 18.5 days old. The photo won first place in Nikon's 2007 Small World Photomicrography Competition.
  • 2006
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    A photo of the International Space Station (ISS) and Space Shuttle Atlantis flying between Earth and the sun. The photo was taken from Normandie, France on Sept. 17, 2006.
  • 2005
    Charles Krebs/NIKON Small World
    A portrait of a Muscoid fly (house fly) that won first place in Nikon's 2005 Small World Photomicrography Competition.