Dr Rachel Bennetts
Lecturer in Psychology
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTelephone: +44 (0)20 7882 6674Room Number: Room 3.20, Fogg building
My research focuses on face processing: how people can look at a face and extract information about things like identity, emotional expression, age, and gender. I am particularly interested in individual differences in face recognition, and trying to understand why some people are so good with faces whereas other struggle to identify even their close friends. This involves working with people who cannot recognise faces (a condition known as prosopagnosia), people who never forget a face (super-recognisers), and typical people (who fall somewhere in between these two groups). Currently, I am working with collaborators at Bournemouth University’s Centre for Face Processing Disorders to understand the cognitive characteristics of prosopagnosia and super-recognition.
My research also looks at how differences in face recognition in the general population might affect other tasks – for example, emotion recognition, sensitivity to movement cues, and the ability to construct an image of a face from memory using forensic identikit systems. This research uses techniques including eye-tracking, neuropsychological testing, and experimental psychology methods. I also work with children to try and understand how these differences in face processing abilities develop. Recently, this line of research found that face recognition difficulties may be more prevalent in children than in adults, affecting up to 4% of children.
My current work is investigating whether children and teenagers with face recognition difficulties share the same characteristics as adults with face recognition difficulties. Over the last few years, I have been particularly interested in whether we can modulate face recognition abilities using techniques such as cognitive training, inhalation of oxytocin, and transcranial electric stimulation. We have found that both cognitive training and inhalation of oxytocin can improve face recognition in certain circumstances, and our current work is building on these findings to try and develop effective training or intervention programs for individuals with face recognition difficulties.
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