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Wearing a Covid-19 mask? Adults still not getting better at recognizing masked faces after 2 years: Study

Toronto (Canada): According to a recent York University study, adults still have trouble identifying individuals when their face is hidden by a mask, more than two years after the pandemic began. The most recent study by researchers from York and Ben-Gurion University in Israel shows that people’s ability to recognize faces does not improve over time, despite masks. The study was released today in the journal Psychological Science and is titled Recognition of masked faces in an era of pandemic: no improvement despite substantial, natural exposure. According to the researchers, the ability of adults to recognize these partially hidden faces has not changed as a result of frequent exposure to masked faces during the pandemic.

According to the study’s senior author, Erez Freud, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Health at the University of York, “neither time nor the experience of masked faces changed or improved the effect of face masks.” It shows that even after repeated exposure to masked faces, the adult brain does not appear to be able to change the way it interprets faces. The ongoing pandemic gave researchers an unheard of opportunity to examine the flexibility of a mature face processing system. More than 2,000 individuals were put through a series of tests by researchers that displayed them on both straight and inverted faces, with and without masks. At six different times during the pandemic, different adult population groups were tested.

Additionally, the researchers examined the same group shortly after the epidemic began and again a year later. Adults showed no improvement in their ability to detect masked faces in cross-sectional or longitudinal studies. Using the Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT), which is considered the gold standard for measuring face recognition ability, prior research found that when an adult was wearing a mask, their ability to recognize faces increased by almost There was a decline of 15%. Face masks also hinder the processing of unmasked faces, which is usually done as a whole, rather than with the various components of the face. The Glasgow Face Match Test, an additional measure of facial perception, was also employed in this current study to see if anything changed from the previous one other than the CFMT.

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This shows that, according to Freud, facial processing is rigid in people, at least in adults, even after extensive exposure to partially hidden faces in the real world. Facial sensitivity first appears in infants who exhibit a tendency toward faces or objects that resemble faces, especially well-known faces. The facial processing system, which continues to develop until the end of puberty, differs from the mature face processing system in that it is somewhat refined by frequent exposure to faces as a child.

According to Freud, it will be interesting to investigate whether children’s ability to recognize face changes over time and whether the pandemic has affected this ability.

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