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The research team, from the University of York, tested study participants on how many faces they could recall from their personal lives and the media, as well as the number of famous faces they recognised.
Humans have typically lived in small groups of around one hundred individuals, but the study suggests our facial recognition abilities equip us to deal with the thousands of faces we encounter in the modern world -- on our screens as well as in social interactions.
Results - Baseline - Vocabulary - Size - Humans
The results provide a baseline with which to compare the "facial vocabulary" size of humans with facial recognition software that is increasingly used to identify people at airports and in police investigations.
Dr Rob Jenkins, from the Department of Psychology at the University of York, said: "Our study focused on the number of faces people actually know- we haven't yet found a limit on how many faces the brain can handle.
Ability - Individuals - Track - People - Behaviour
"The ability to distinguish different individuals is clearly important -- it allows you to keep track of people's behaviour over time, and to modify your own behaviour accordingly."
For the study, participants spent an hour writing down as many faces from their personal lives as possible -- including people they went to school with, colleagues and family. They then did the same for famous...
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