Brain Region That Recognizes Faces Grows With Age

Posted: Jan 7 2017, 5:30am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

Brain Region That Recognizes Faces Grows with Age
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  • Brain Region That Recognizes Faces Keeps Growing in Adulthood
 

Apparently the region in the human brain responsible for recognizing faces grows with age.

The differences between kids’ brains and adults’ brains show that facial recognition gets better till the age of 30. The scans of 25 adults and 22 children clearly showed that the facial recognition area grows after the teenage years.

However, this area in the brain didn’t acquire any more neurons. Instead, the region had greater connectivity and grew denser in the networks surrounding the neurons. 

It is almost like a garden with flowers in it. The numbers of flowers do not undergo any change. What does get transformed is the number of leaves and shoots and stems which intertwine with each other.

The researchers wanted to know whether this effect was visible in other areas of the brain. They took scans of the region responsible for recognizing places. Here no difference was seen between the kids’ brain scans and the adults’ brain scans.

Brain development is thus a variegated thing. Scientists know that the human brain undergoes synaptic pruning. This process stops all unused connections between neurons. It occurs in the first few years of life.  

Yet after the age of 3 there is little data about what goes on in the brain. This facial recognition growth may be so because the human animal needs to continue to discern faces on a real time basis throughout life.

While a child needs only to recognize his or her immediate family and friends, an adult needs to recognize a lot more faces. Hundreds of people are in your head as acquaintances.

To keep all these people within your memory bank requires quite a lot of mental energy. That is because all faces have pretty much the same motif and theme. They are variations of the same template.  

The changes in the brain may make children respond to different faces over different phases of time. While in childhood, the facial recognition is attuned to adult faces, during the teenage years, it is fixated on other adolescents.

This research holds great scope for finding out why some people cannot recognize faces as they age, according to NPR. Face blindness is a very real disorder in many people. People with autism especially happen to be unable to recognize faces.

This study was published in the journal Science.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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