Face recognition: a model specific ability
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CitationWilmer, Jeremy B., Laura T. Germine, and Ken Nakayama. 2014. “Face recognition: a model specific ability.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8 (1): 769. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00769. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00769.
AbstractIn our everyday lives, we view it as a matter of course that different people are good at different things. It can be surprising, in this context, to learn that most of what is known about cognitive ability variation across individuals concerns the broadest of all cognitive abilities; an ability referred to as general intelligence, general mental ability, or just g. In contrast, our knowledge of specific abilities, those that correlate little with g, is severely constrained. Here, we draw upon our experience investigating an exceptionally specific ability, face recognition, to make the case that many specific abilities could easily have been missed. In making this case, we derive key insights from earlier false starts in the measurement of face recognition’s variation across individuals, and we highlight the convergence of factors that enabled the recent discovery that this variation is specific. We propose that the case of face recognition ability illustrates a set of tools and perspectives that could accelerate fruitful work on specific cognitive abilities. By revealing relatively independent dimensions of human ability, such work would enhance our capacity to understand the uniqueness of individual minds.
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