School of Human Sciences
Face and Voice Recognition Lab
Institute of Lifecourse Development
University of Greenwich
Ryan Jenkins 9 March 2021
(PhD student) – University of Greenwich (Twitter: @Ryan_e_Jenkins)
Stop press: Prof. Josh P Davis is appearing on BBC1's Crimewatch Live show on Wed 24 March at 11AM to discuss Ryan's brand-new Greenwich Voice Recognition Test and super-recognisers. If you would like to have a go at this test, please click here:
Please use a PC/laptop with either Google Chrome (Windows devices) or Safari (Apple devices) to complete this test. Using a mobile device (e.g., phone, tablet, iPad etc.) has often resulted in audio issues.
Back to the published research...
Thanks to the 529 participants who contributed to our collaborative project investigating whether super-recogniser performances on face tests can transfer across to voice tests. Participants will have contributed to this project from November 2018 to January 2019. This research is part of my PhD, which is funded by a University of Greenwich, Vice Chancellor's PhD Scholarship (2017/2018).
A journal article describing the research is free to access here:
Jenkins, R. E., Tsermentseli, S., Monks, C. P., Robertson, D. J., Stevenage, S.V ., Symons, A. E., & Davis, J. P. (2021). Are super-face-recognisers also super-voice-recognisers? Evidence from cross-modal identification tasks. Applied Cognitive Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.3813
An additional article in the Conversation places the research in its wider context:
Jenkins, R. E., Robertson, D. J., & Davis, J. P. (2021). Super-recognisers: Some people excel at both face and voice recognition. The Conversation, 156817. https://theconversation.com/super-recognisers-some-people-excel-at-both-face-and-voice-recognition-156817
Please note, with permission, the Conversation article has also been published in Policing Insight: https://policinginsight.com/features/innovation/super-recognisers-some-people-excel-at-both-face-and-voice-recognition/
Theoretical models and evidence from brain-imaging studies, have proposed similarities in how faces and voices are processed. This research suggests that there may be an underlying cross-modal (faces vs. voices) mechanism that drives performances.
Large individual differences have also been found to exist in both face and voice modalities. For faces, this ranges from prosopagnosia (an inability to recognise familiar faces) to super-recognisers, individuals who perform exceptionally well at unfamiliar face recognition tasks. Similarly, for voices, the condition phonagnosia (individuals unable to recognise the voices of personally familiar people) has been described as auditory analogue of prosopagnosia. However, no research had previously examined whether superior face performances could be transferred across to voices.
In this collaborative paper published in Applied Cognitive Psychology we find that a substantial proportion of those who perform exceptionally well at either face memory and face matching tests, also perform well at the respective voice memory or voice matching tasks. Some participants consistently scored highly across all three voice tests, suggesting that these people might be ‘super-voice-recognisers’. However, this proposal is highly speculative and further research is required to substantiate this possibility. Indeed, this is the focus of the next phase of my PhD research. We hope to invite participants on the University of Greenwich volunteer database to assist with this research very soon.
The abstract is provided below. The participant group criteria were based on previous face memory test scores on the Cambridge Face Memory Test: Extended (Russell, Duchaine, & Nakayama, 2009), and previous face matching test scores on the Glasgow Face Matching Test (Burton, White, & McNeill, 2010).
Individual differences in face identification ability range from prosopagnosia to super‐recognition. The current study examined whether face identification ability predicts voice identification ability (participants: N = 529). Superior‐face‐identifiers (exceptional at face memory and matching), superior‐face‐recognisers (exceptional at face memory only), superior‐face‐matchers (exceptional face matchers only), and controls completed the Bangor Voice Matching Test, Glasgow Voice Memory Test, and a Famous Voice Recognition Test. Meeting predictions, those possessing exceptional face memory and matching skills outperformed typical‐range face groups at voice memory and voice matching respectively. Proportionally more super‐face‐identifiers also achieved our super‐voice‐recogniser criteria on two or more tests. Underlying cross‐modality (voices vs. faces) and cross‐task (memory vs. perception) mechanisms may therefore drive superior performances. Dissociations between Glasgow Voice Memory Test voice and bell recognition also suggest voice‐specific effects to match those found with faces. These findings have applied implications for policing, particularly in cases when only suspect voice clips are available.
Ryan Jenkins (PhD student) – University of Greenwich (Twitter: @Ryan_e_Jenkins)
Dr Stella Tsermentseli – University of Thessaly (Twitter: @dr_stellatse)
Professor Claire P Monks - University of Greenwich (Twitter: @clairepmonks)
Dr David Robertson – University of Strathclyde (Twitter:@DJRobertson87)
Professor Sarah Stevenage – University of Southampton (Twitter: @UOSPsychology)
Dr Ashley Symons – University of Southampton (Twitter:@aesymons)
Professor Josh P Davis – University of Greenwich (Twitter: @JoshPDavis1)
Burton, A. M., White, D., & McNeill, A. (2010). The Glasgow face matching test. Behavioural Research Methods, 42, 286–291. https://doi.org/10.3758/BRM.42.1.286
Jenkins, R. E., Tsermentseli, S., Monks, C. P., Robertson, D. J., Stevenage, S. V., Symons, A. E., & Davis, J. P. (2021). Are super-face-recognisers also super-voice-recognisers? Evidence from cross-modal identification tasks. Applied Cognitive Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1002/acp.3813
Russell, R., Duchaine, B., & Nakayama, D. (2009). Super-recognisers: People with extraordinary face recognition ability. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 16(2), 252–257. https://doi.org/10.3758/PBR.16.2.252