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test your your brain
May 21, 2009 10:53 AM   Subscribe

Test My Brain was set up by Harvard's Vision Lab and Social Neuroscience and Psychopathology Lab. There are five tests online at the time of this post; take one and maybe you'll learn something about yourself that you may not have known (other than your special ability to slack off on MetaFilter when you should be working). At the same time, you'll be helping researchers collect data from a wide range of subjects. One of the collaborators, Professor Ken Nakayama, is also responsible for creating these online tests for faceblindness. [previously]

[Disclaimer: I work at Harvard, but not in the same department; I know none of the collaborators.]
posted by not_on_display (69 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
I knew a whole family that was emotionblind/faceblind. All three kids couldn't interpret people's facial expressions/emotions- for example, not expressing sympathy with people who were obviously sad, or not knowing to stop when people didn't want to talk to them. It's kind of a curse.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:05 AM on May 21, 2009


Sweet post. My recognition of emotion/gender seems in stark contrast with my enjoyment of social interaction (though how I scored 0/8 is a mystery to me. I could have sworn I answered the personality test questions in a way that indicates that I do enjoy them).
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:12 AM on May 21, 2009


Informed Consent? I LOVE giving Informed Consent.

Now I know I recognize movie stars much better than historical figures... Perhaps I should rethink my use of time...
posted by dormouse at 11:17 AM on May 21, 2009


I'm looking forward to doing more of these tests when I get home tonight. So far, I've learned that I can recognize more famous faces than the average test-taker. Too much tmz.com? ;)
posted by shino-boy at 11:20 AM on May 21, 2009


That yellow and blue ball test is long
posted by griphus at 11:26 AM on May 21, 2009 [7 favorites]


Solipsophistocracy, I had a similarly surprising result on the social interaction enjoyment (1/8). However, I do have mad facial recognition skills, apparently. So when I disgust any of you at a future meetup, I will be able to recognize that right on your fucking faces. Then I'll run home and talk to a wall.
posted by Skot at 11:29 AM on May 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


Took the number gut quiz. 98th percentile mofos. Now I'm going to take it again and bomb it so my other score goes up! Yeah, that'll show 'em!!
posted by billysumday at 11:29 AM on May 21, 2009


I'm still seeing spots. But at least I'm slightly above average in approximating their number!
posted by mayhap at 11:30 AM on May 21, 2009


Huh. Well, on the facial emotion/gender recognition test, I did significantly better than average at recognizing emotions in facial expressions (75% correct compared to the average of 66%). But apparently, I'm a little worse than average at recognizing gender, which is odd, since I was sure my look-for-razor-stubble test was infallible.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:30 AM on May 21, 2009


Somehow I failed to recognize Barack Obama's face...
posted by aheckler at 11:38 AM on May 21, 2009


I'm really, really lousy at identifying faces. The ones I identified were mostly because of some idiosyncratic clue (Donald Trump's obnoxious pursed lips, for example). I'm also, I think, much better at identifying male faces than female ones (I am almost incapable of differentiating between most Hollywood actresses). I hope this doesn't make me a bad person.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:40 AM on May 21, 2009


I counted all the blue and yellow dots but then there was nowhere to input how many of each in total! No, I actually did better than I expected on that one than I expected.
posted by Elmore at 11:40 AM on May 21, 2009


"That yellow and blue ball test is long"

Yeah, I gave up after the practice sessions. I couldn't handle any more than that.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:41 AM on May 21, 2009


Somehow I failed to recognize Barack Obama's face...

So did I. I thought, hey, is that the guy from the Allstate commercials, whose name I don't know? Apparently it was Barry O. Oops. I also hope this doesn't make me a bad person.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:45 AM on May 21, 2009


71 out of 72 faces recognized. How can I exploit this for fame and fortune?
posted by wowbobwow at 11:48 AM on May 21, 2009


I bailed on the Number/Word test. Just too much effort involved. Recall 25 word pairs for a later quiz? I'll pass.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:49 AM on May 21, 2009


wowbobwow: on which test? the familiar facial recognition one, or the unfamiliar facial recognition one? I got 66 out of 72 on the unfamiliar facial recognition one, which is better than average--and to me, a surprising result, because I'm terrible with new faces in real life.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:52 AM on May 21, 2009


Average person, I don't like you.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:53 AM on May 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


saulgoodman- the mixed memory test, with the word pairings and number sequences as well.

I can recognize the shit out of people. Someone must have a use for this vital skill.
posted by wowbobwow at 11:55 AM on May 21, 2009


I was 80% on the yellow/blue dot test. Ugh. Hard.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 11:58 AM on May 21, 2009


Also, I sucked at the emotion/gender recognition test. All but like two looked male to me.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 12:07 PM on May 21, 2009


Oh, yeah, on the flip side, I rocked the emotion/gender thingummy.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:08 PM on May 21, 2009


I think they manipulated some of the pictures to 'shop out razor stubble; I got the same face twice in a row, one with stubble, one without.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:17 PM on May 21, 2009


I excel at judging gender from a face. This will come in handy the next time I see a disembodied head floating around at a party.
posted by iconomy at 12:21 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I bailed on the dots thing. Wayyyyyy too long.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:28 PM on May 21, 2009


The dots one was broken for me. The practice ones worked fine, but the real ones didn't actually show anything. Just a blank screen, then "Which color was greater?" or whatever. I didn't sign up for a test of my psychic abilities, so I bailed on that one and then scored only 50% on the famous faces test. That didn't really surprise me, though.
posted by owtytrof at 12:34 PM on May 21, 2009


I am almost incapable of differentiating between most Hollywood actresses

Publicists across the world are in physical pain hearing you say that.
posted by IndigoJones at 12:36 PM on May 21, 2009


Warning: Your dreams will be haunted by skull-less Slavic students.
posted by TimTypeZed at 12:39 PM on May 21, 2009


I'm excellent at remembering pairs of words, above average at number sequences and utterly terrible at faces. None of this surprises me a bit, but hey, I am glad to do my part for Harvard.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:40 PM on May 21, 2009


I was really awesome on the word pairs. What good this does for me in real life, possibly nil.

The famous faces one seemed silly - too easy.
posted by HopperFan at 12:45 PM on May 21, 2009


wowbobwow - Yep. You can follow me around pointing out my friends and colleagues.

I am comically bad at recognising people's faces. I can spot big differences (race, huge eyebrows, chubby cheeks, etc) and try to memorise them, but I don't get any of the fine detail that others seem to pick up on. I mostly rely on someone's voice, gait and hair/clothes to recognise them. Imagine a world where everyone is wearing a full-face white mask (or maybe some sort of translucent but blurry mask) but is otherwise acting totally normally, and that's pretty much my world. It means I've ended up a bit "speak when spoken to" in public because I'm rarely completely sure whether I'm walking toward a friend or a stranger, but if you develop the habit of never addressing people by name it's surprisingly easy to get by.

It can be very annoying when I fail to spot my friends, have akward conversations where I'm trying to work out who the hell I'm talking to, or when costume changes in a film make the plots difficult to follow. E.g. Star Wars Ep1 made no sense to me, as every time Senator Palpatine changed into his Sith costume I assumed it was a different character. On the upside, I wouldn't have noticed the change in actress for the Oracle in The Matrix if someone hadn't pointed it out to me.

On the whole it brings more comedy than anything else. For example, three times now I've discovered that someone in a new workplace who seems to move around a lot is actually two people who just share an accent, dress sense and hairstyle. Each time I only worked it out after I actually saw them standing next to each other, and each time I only learned to reiably differentiate between them when one of the pair got a noticeable haircut. It runs the risk of offending people but made me crack up each time I saw them afterward.

For reference, I just got 45% in the "recognising new faces" test and 51% in the "recognising familiar faces" test, both from the UCL site.
posted by metaBugs at 12:47 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whew, 82% on the yellow and blue dots test. But I suck at math!

Gonna let my eyes recover before I try the next one.
posted by bink at 12:57 PM on May 21, 2009


> I think they manipulated some of the pictures to 'shop out razor stubble; I got the same face twice in a row, one with stubble, one without.

I think they edited the faces to smooth out complexion, and I think they might have fiddled with some eyebrows too.
posted by bjrn at 12:57 PM on May 21, 2009


I bailed on the dots, am above average at word pairs, and below average at number sequences. I figured I'm too clueless at famous faces to bother, but tried and got 6/10 faces. I can't believe I missed Johnny Depp.
posted by notashroom at 12:58 PM on May 21, 2009


I think they manipulated some of the pictures to 'shop out razor stubble;

Yeah, it seemed like they tinkered with the hairlines and the shapes of the faces, too, at times. When it was too confusing to me, I fell back on the razor stubble test, which in hindsight seems like a mistake.

Raises a question though. If key features of the faces, like the presence of razor stubble, the hairlines, or the shapes of the faces, were digitally altered, is it really a test of gender recognition anymore? I mean, since the faces aren't actual human faces anymore but rather, digitally-manipulated, synth-faces, how do you establish empirically that they actually still are male or female faces? Disembodied synthetic faces don't really have genitals, so how do you check?

/gleefully over-thinking a plate of beans
posted by saulgoodman at 1:02 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


E.g. Star Wars Ep1 made no sense to me, as every time Senator Palpatine changed into his Sith costume I assumed it was a different character.

You've just summed up every movie-watching experience for my better half. I've trained him to be better at recognizing people, but only slightly. He says the only actress whose face he knows is Jody Foster. He hardly even argues anymore when I correct him about who is who in any given TV show or movie.

I, on the other hand, recognized Jean Marais as the older man in the 1996 film Stealing Beauty, having only seen one of his films.... La Belle et la Bete from 1946. Shazaam, as the kids say.
posted by wowbobwow at 1:02 PM on May 21, 2009


DOH! The social interaction enjoyment score given at the end of the "Mystery Motion" test is flipped, e.g. if you answer saying you enjoy social interaction it will give you 0, if you answer saying you are a paranoid nutjob and hate people, it gives you 12 out of 12. Well done scientists!
posted by salo at 1:15 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


salo: I got the same type of results... I like social situations, but it scored me at rock bottom of the list. Hmph! Any of you certifiables find out that you're actually really outgoing when you know you're not? (I think I'll email the test-givers.)

I did score 98% on the gender recognition test. So I should be awesome at playing "spot the transsexual" at the next meetup I attend. (Which I will not hate! Really!)
posted by not_on_display at 1:21 PM on May 21, 2009


I got a score of a score of 10 / 12 for social interaction enjoyment. I would have to say that's incorrect.

[going to talk to wall now]
posted by HopperFan at 1:28 PM on May 21, 2009


DOH! The social interaction enjoyment score given at the end of the "Mystery Motion" test is flipped, e.g. if you answer saying you enjoy social interaction it will give you 0, if you answer saying you are a paranoid nutjob and hate people, it gives you 12 out of 12. Well done scientists!

This explains why I got 11 out of 12. I was astonished that a hermit like me could get that kind of score on a social interaction enjoyment test.

Also I can't recognize faces and the test confirmed that. It does make life a little comical sometimes.
posted by winna at 1:31 PM on May 21, 2009


HopperFan: I got a score of a score of 10 / 12 for social interaction enjoyment. I would have to say that's incorrect. [going to talk to wall now]

I've emailed them. If someone replies, I'll post an explanation. Say hi to the wall for me!!
posted by not_on_display at 1:32 PM on May 21, 2009


I tell people I never forget a face. Now I have a test to prove it. 72/72, makes up for the abysmal number sequence test result.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:48 PM on May 21, 2009


^Testmybrain replies:
Thank you so much for letting me know! We've edited things recently, so clearly something got scrambled and the scores for social interaction got flipped around.... I've fixed it now however, so these scores should now accurately reflect your responses!

I appreciate your giving my a heads-up though -- thanks again!

Best,
Laura
Awright! Now I can breathe more easily, knowing that I haven't deluded myself all these years.
posted by not_on_display at 2:11 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huh. Got 100% on the word pairs, perfect 12 (or 0, depending on the test) on the social interaction, and excellent on the face & gender recall. But apparently I really suck at estimating numbers of dots. So at the 10th meetup I'll be the hypersocial one who recognizes all of your faces and remembers everything you said but can't figure out how many of you there are. (which does sound about right, sorta)
posted by widdershins at 2:14 PM on May 21, 2009


Way to go, not_on_display!
posted by solipsophistocracy at 2:24 PM on May 21, 2009


Awright! Now I can breathe more easily, knowing that I haven't deluded myself all these years.

Aha! That explains my weird results then. I got pegged as more social than average when I'm cripplingly shy around new people unless heavily inebriated (although I do loves me some partying with close friends).
posted by saulgoodman at 2:34 PM on May 21, 2009


I am the webmaster for testmybrain.org, and just wanted to let you all know that we have fixed the problem in the Mystery Motion Test. The program was reversing the "social interaction enjoyment" scores so people who enjoy social interaction were getting feedback that they were very low in this dimension (and vice-versa). It should be reporting correct feedback now. Thanks to those who reported the problem to us!

- testmybrain.org
posted by testmybrain at 2:37 PM on May 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I must think there are a lot of homely women at Harvard.
posted by spec80 at 2:56 PM on May 21, 2009


Heh. I'm pretty sure I'm not naturally very good at picking up emotions from facial expressions, but after watching a season of Lie to Me, I score a good 20% above average on ID'ing emotions. Thanks, Fox Network, for teaching me to recognize disgust wherever I go!
posted by Knicke at 3:30 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wanted some kind of feedback/results for the "how much would you spend to do whatever you want for a week" thing.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 3:48 PM on May 21, 2009


95th percentile on number sense, bitches!
posted by tits mcgee at 5:08 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


And 100% on famous faces.

I am less proud of this.
posted by tits mcgee at 5:20 PM on May 21, 2009


oh phew I was all I AM NOT ANTI-SOCIAL YOU DAMNED MACHINE!!!!

I didn't get the mystery motion test "dream vacation" dollar amount thing. I just wrote $0 and $0 because the question seemed nonsenical to me.

Other than that, I am slightly above average on blue/yellow balls, okay at faces, okay at emotions [though none of them looked disgusted to me pretty much ever] and decent at gender.
posted by jessamyn at 7:26 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


above average at balls, face sexing, face emotioning, number memorizing (almost perfect!)
below average at famous faces (maybe got two..), other memorization (words!?)
posted by xorry at 9:06 PM on May 21, 2009


Here are some more tests for people who really like taking tests: https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/research/
posted by xorry at 9:13 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


You correctly identified 68 out of 72 faces.

This offers some confirmation of what I suspected - I've got a strong visual memory. Names often get away from me.
This was fun! Thanks homunculus!
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 9:49 PM on May 21, 2009


You're welcome, nickyskye!
posted by not_on_display at 9:54 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought margaret thatcher was klaus nomi!
posted by speicus at 11:12 PM on May 21, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am awesome at word pairings and identifying faces, and suck at numbers. I was absurdly pleased whenever I massively outscored the average person.
posted by OolooKitty at 11:17 PM on May 21, 2009


The fact that I got Margaret Thatcher and Susan Sarandon, but missed Scarlett Johansson worries me.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:17 AM on May 22, 2009


Thanks for posting this - while I was a bit below average on the coloured balls thing (which I expected) I rocked at the other stuff. So now I feel all superior and stuff.
And it was an awesome procrastination tool - doing quizzes but for a good cause! How can anyone argue with that?
posted by Megami at 12:23 AM on May 22, 2009


Fun stuff!

90% recognizing gender
78% recognizing emotions

and

20/20 famous faces

I guess I'm good with faces.
posted by deborah at 1:04 AM on May 22, 2009


Wow, I thought Johnny Depp was Sigourney Weaver. No wonder Average Person is kicking my ass at all of these.
posted by cj_ at 9:46 AM on May 22, 2009


https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/research/

Are these all those L/R tests where they basically make you rapidly choose whether an attribute matches the lefthand thing or the righthand thing? I like all sorts of tests but this particular brand makes me feel like a twitchy spaz because I am not so good with the left/right thing and so I can't remember which side goes to which and the program always hollers at me.
posted by jessamyn at 10:11 AM on May 22, 2009


I could have sworn Johnny Depp was Heath Ledger.
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 8:44 PM on May 22, 2009


I seem to be pretty good at dot-counting but I gave up in despair partway into the face recognizing one. Obama's was the only face I got right. (I was going to be proud of myself for identifying Stan Laurel, but it turned out to be Fred Astaire.)

Like metaBugs, I think I key off of gait, motion, hair and clothes in real life, which is why I'm not as incapable of functioning in society as my test performance might suggest. I have a half-formed theory about how these are also the things that actors learn to control, which is why I am incapable of following some movies unless the hairstyles and clothingstyles are distinct.
posted by hattifattener at 11:32 PM on May 22, 2009


The only reason why I recognized Fred Astaire was because I had just seen his picture an hour ago on 1001 Rules For My Unborn Son [via]. Thank you MetaFilter, for making me look just a little bit smarter.
posted by skoosh at 7:31 AM on May 23, 2009


wowbobwow -
I, on the other hand, recognized Jean Marais as the older man in the 1996 film Stealing Beauty, having only seen one of his films.... La Belle et la Bete from 1946. Shazaam, as the kids say.

In my eyes, that crosses the line from "talent" to "witchcraft".
/me wards off evil eye

hattifattener - I have a half-formed theory about how these are also the things that actors learn to control, which is why I am incapable of following some movies unless the hairstyles and clothingstyles are distinct.
Yes, I've always thought the same thing. The better the actor, the less chance I have of recognising them from another role. My example from Star Wars works here: the change from Senator Palpatine to Darth Sidious left the actor's face unobscured but changed his costume, intonation and mannerisms. I had no idea that it was the same guy. Hugh Laurie is another example: there's no way I would've connected House to Laurie using his normal accent.

By contrast I don't think I'd ever have a problem recognising, say, Hugh Grant in a film because throughout his entire career he's only really played variations on one character.
posted by metaBugs at 7:31 AM on May 23, 2009


Jessamyn: oh phew I was all I AM NOT ANTI-SOCIAL YOU DAMNED MACHINE!!!!

I second your astonishment, although from the other side of the equation. I was a little surprised to be told i'm a social butterfly, but pleased and ready to gleefully tell my therapist i'm cured and her fees will now be spent on dames and liquor.

(I'm an agoraphobe who is prone to panic attacks when meeting new people, or leaving my geographical comfort zone. WOOHOO! PARTY!!)

Score one for such a quick turn-around on fixing it though, testmybrainers.
posted by pseudonymph at 8:44 AM on May 23, 2009


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