What’s he from? Did he play the bad guy in that film? I know that face!

Watching a movie in my house is clearly fun (although normally I say this stuff in my head). Sometimes it takes a while but I tend to identify the face pretty quickly. I didn’t know until recently that this is an unusual gift and I’m in a small percentage of people who can do it. It comes so naturally that I never thought about it. 

Chris, on the other hand, is the opposite. Even after hours of pondering over faces he can’t pick them out of a line up. This is probably handy if you’re thinking of committing a crime in his presence – he’d never know it was you. Apparently I’m what’s known as a ‘super recogniser’ while Chris suffers from ‘face blindness.’ Takes all sorts…

Super recognisers were identified in 2009 by psychologist Richard Russell who stumbled on the phenomenon while studying prosopagnosia – a disorder in which people struggle to recognise faces, even their own. And then Scotland Yard took notice and set up the UK’s first dedicated super recogniser police unit – the perfect marriage of science and service.

One got away dammit…

Neuroscientists aren’t quite sure why some of us can do this so well, the brain is as elusive as ever. It’s a complex process within the temporal lobe (a region of the brain just above the ear) and sometimes it just works like magic. I can see a face for a fraction of a second and identify it days later. It’s my superpower but I don’t know what to do with it yet, apart from shouting out loudly during movie nights. Who knows, it might reveal its purpose in due time. Shall I contact Scotland Yard?

Meantime, what’s your superpower?