Why it’s not so easy remembering what’s‑his‑face | News

Do you struggle with remembering new faces? Maybe that’s because you already know 5,000.

Scientists have estimated that the average person can distinguish between that many faces, even if they cannot necessarily put a name to them. And although the number is small enough that it means many of us still flounder on the celebrity picture round in pub quizzes, it is also vastly more than would have been needed throughout most of human history.

Rob Jenkins, from the University of York, conducted the research because he was surprised to learn that no one had come up with a number yet, despite the importance of facial recognition in understanding human society.

“We are very, very good at dealing with and identifying familiar faces,” he said.…