Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Face It. To Brad Pitt&Co., You Are Forgettable

Don't take it personally if Brad Pitt doesn't remember who you are. Photo from Brad Pitt Facebook page.

PLEASE note that Brad Pitt is not dissing you or otherwise being a jerk. There is a perfectly logical explanation, besides his self-diagnosed prosopagnosia, that he can't remember you to save his life.

His forgetfulness may have more to do with his gender than the aforementioned brain disorder that causes face blindness.

Research from Canada’s McMaster University contends that women remember faces better than men because unbeknownst to them they pay more attention to the features of others.

“Our findings provide new insights into the potential mechanisms of episodic memory and the differences between the sexes,” Jennifer Heisz, an assistant professor in McMaster’s kinesiology departmentat and study co-author told the university's news service. The results are published in Psychological Science. “We discovered that women look more at new faces than men do, which allows them to create a richer and more superior memory.” (http://www.bit.ly/8lc3yd)

It is not likely that BP’s partner, Angelina Jolie, has this issue and the resultant fallout. "So many people hate me because they think I'm disrespecting them," BP disclosed to Esquire magazine in an interview promoting his new film, “World War Z, about a zombie pandemic that threatens to destroy the world. The film had its world premiere in London on Sunday (2 June), premiered in France yesterday, and will continue its rollout across the globe later this month through mid-August.(See video above).

Continued BP: "Every now and then, someone will give me context, and I'll say, 'Thank you for helping me.' But I piss more people off. You get this thing, like, 'You're being egotistical. You're being conceited.' But it's a mystery to me, man. I can't grasp a face, and yet I come from such a design/aesthetic point of view."

Participants in the McMaster experiment were shown faces on a computer screen while eye-tracking technology took note of where – eyes, mouth, nose – they looked on an individual face. Each face was given a name that participants were tasked with remembering. Basically, women paid more attention and had more recall.

“But this strategy operates completely outside of our awareness,” JH asserted. “Individuals don’t usually notice where their eyes fixate, so it’s all subconscious.”

Scanning patterns of a female and a male when viewing the same face for the first time.

And it can also be taught. To that end, BP need not despair. Indeed, he and others similarly afflicted can be taught a few techniques that will improve their face recognition abilities.

“The results open the possibility that changing our eye movement pattern may lead to better memory,” said study co-author David Shore, a McMaster psychology professor. “Increased scanning may prove to be a simple strategy to improve face memory in the general population, especially for individuals with memory impairment like older adults.”

A few scanning exercises may be just the thing to get BP out of the house more often. He also revealed to Esquire that he doesn’t venture out much for dread of encountering yet another face he does not recognize.

Not exactly a sustainable face-saving technique.

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