Cityvisitor blog

How many faces do you know?

Apparently the human brain is capable of remembering 5,000 different faces, according to a new study.

I’m sorry, but there’s no way I can remember 1,000 different faces, let alone 5,000. I’m lucky if I can remember a person’s name five minutes after I have spoken to them.

I regularly see people and have to pretend I haven’t because I can’t recall who they are and where I know them from! Does anyone else do that?

In fact, I think I recognise more dogs than I do people. I know the names and breeds and personalities of LOADS of dogs who I see on a regular basis on our favourite dog walks.

Joking aside, the study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, actually didn’t expect participants to remember the names of 5,000 people, just to recognise the faces.

It stated: “It is also important to distinguish between knowing a person’s face and knowing a person’s name. These two forms of person knowledge readily dissociate. For example, one might recognize the faces of fellow commuters, but never discover their names. Conversely, one might learn the names of famous authors, but never see their faces.”

Phew! I’m still not sure I am able to recognise as many as 5,000 faces though. The study used undergraduate or postgraduate students who (without giving too much away) are considerably younger than I am!

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