Face recognition ability inherited separately from IQJanuary 20th, 2010 - 4:45 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Jan 20 (IANS) Ever wondered why some people are not able to recognise faces? It’s because face recognition is heritable, and that too separately from general intelligence or IQ, research says.
Some people are unable to recognise even their closest friends (a condition called prosopagnosia), while others have a near-photographic memory for large numbers of faces.
A twin study by collaborators at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and in Beijing shows that face recognition is heritable, and that it is inherited separately from general intelligence or IQ. The finding plays into a long-standing debate on the nature of mind and intelligence.
The prevailing generalist theory, upon which the concept of IQ is based, holds that if people are smart in one area they tend to be smart in other areas, so if you are good in math you are also more likely to be good at literature and history.
Also, many specialised cognitive skills, including face recognition, seem to be localised to specialised brain regions.
Jia Liu, professor of cognitive neuroscience at Beijing Normal University, China said: “Some cognitive abilities, like face recognition, are shaped by specialist genes rather than generalist genes.”
“Our finding may help explain why we see such disparities of cognitive abilities within the same person in certain heritable disorders,” added co-author Nancy Kanwisher of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, where Liu studied before moving to Beijing.
In dyslexia, for example, a person with normal IQ has deficits in reading, while in Williams Syndrome, people have low IQ but excellent language skills.
For the study, Liu and his colleagues recruited 102 pairs of identical twins and 71 pairs of fraternal twins aged 7 to 19 years from Beijing schools, said an MIT release.
The findings were published in the January issue of Current Biology.
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Tags: beijing normal university, brain regions, brain research, cognitive abilities, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive skills, current biology, face recognition, fraternal twins, generalist theory, heritable disorders, identical twins, language skills, massachusetts institute of technology, massachusetts institute of technology mit, nancy kanwisher, normal iq, photographic memory, university china, williams syndrome