Human brain is an almost infinitely capable of storing memory as compared to present day storage devices developed by the human. One more shocking fact to support this statement is, that a human can recognise and differentiate between around 5000 faces altogether.
We live between less people, 200-300 at max coming in our regular contact but we cross our paths with so many more new faces everyday. Apart from our family, friends and colleagues, we get to see a number of celebrities, politicians, other public figures or passersby in real lives or on our smartphones via social media. Scientists have made a study and the results have revealed that humans are capable of recognising 5000 faces on an average. Our television screens, phone screens, hoardings, public transport etc makes us familiar to so many new faces and the surprising fact is that our brain is able to process all this information. Rob Jenkins, a fellow researcher at York’s dept of psychology says, “In everyday life, we are used to identifying friends, colleagues, and celebrities, and many other people by their faces. But no one has established how many faces people actually know.”
As a part of their survey and research, Jenkins asked all his team members to write down as many faces they could recall from their personal lives. After that, they were asked to recall and write about faces they didn’t know personally but somehow recognised them. Showing them the pictures of famous celebrities, Jenkins asked them about how many of them were recognisable to them. Surprisingly, the participants showed to remember around 1000-10000 faces this way. This study was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, that a person is capable of such enormous identification of 5000 faces on an average.
According to Jenkins, whatever mental apparatus allows us to differentiate dozens of people also allows us to differentiate thousands of people. The team said that the figure is surely believable– the first ever baseline of human “facial vocabulary”, could aid the development of facial recognition software often used at airports and cases of criminal investigations could be made easier. Along with that, it may also be helpful to the scientists to understand cases of mistaken identity. One more fact about the face recognition by human brain is that if often makes mistakes in unknown face recognition, whereas there are less chances of error in familiar face recognition.
From the view of evolution, the reason behind development of this capacity is not clear as no human needs to remember thousands of faces at the same time. But, it is proved that it’s possible for a human to remember unlimited number of faces if enough practice is given.