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School of Human Sciences

Face and Voice Recognition Lab

Institute of Lifecourse Development

University of Greenwich


30th October 2021

Super-recognisers, memory and dementia: profiling long-term forgetting in the general population

Terry McGibbon (PhD student, Goldsmiths, University of London)

Ashok Jansari (Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Neuropsychology, Goldsmiths, University of London)

Josh Davis (Professor of Applied Psychology, University of Greenwich)

Thank you to all participants who recently participated in our project investigating how memory develops through life in the general population.

We received some e-mails from individuals requesting information about how their scores compare to others. Below is a brief summary of the test and of scores collected so far. We intend to publish the full data at a later date, so cannot provide too many details now (journals do not normally accept submission if data are previously published).

Verbal Associative Learning and Memory Test (VALMT)

This test has been developed by Terry McGibbon as part of his PhD research1. It is being used to investigate how our memory develops across our lifespan. Once we know how healthy ageing affects memory, we will be able to see what happens in different types of brain disorders such as dementia and therefore we can develop better tests for clinical diagnosis. The test requires participants to learn 12 unrelated word-pairs and then recall these at delays of 1 hour and 24 hours. For the delayed tests, the participant is provided with the first word in a pair, and must then provide the matching second word.


We sent invitations to a proportion of our 47,000+ University of Greenwich volunteer participant database. Some invitations were chosen at random from the entire database, while many were random selections of known super-recognisers (based on scores on other tests).

The average scores of those who contributed (by 29th October 2021) at the two delays were as follows (N denoting the number of people who have completed the task):

· 1 hour: N = 270, Mean = 10.75 out of 12, Standard Deviation = 1.90

· 24 hours: N = 270, Mean = 9.92 out of 12, Standard Deviation = 2.52

These scores are higher than we have found in previous research suggesting that these participants, as a whole, possess better-than-typical ability. As such, the scores are unlikely to be representative of the general population. We will comment on this in the journal article.

Results Figure 1(a) shows a histogram of scores (out of 12) on the VALMT at a delay of 1 hour, and Figure 1(b) shows a histogram of scores at a delay of 24 hours.

These data are not yet cleaned for outliers or other anomalies. Nevertheless, you should be able to compare your score with those reported here to give you a rough idea of where you stood.

Figure 1: Verbal Associative Learning and Memory Test (VALMT) scores; (a) 1 hour delay; (b) 24 hours delay

Email for further correspondence: Terry McGibbon,

1. McGibbon, T., & Jansari, A. S. (2013). Detecting the onset of accelerated long-term forgetting: evidence from temporal lobe epilepsy. Neuropsychologia, 51(1), 114–122.


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