Why people don’t recognise you with your clothes on

There’s a reason why people look completely different when you see them in a  different context.

Neuro scientists at the University of Bristol have discovered how our memory  for faces is subject to many different stimuli. The two most important being,  respectively, object in place recognition memory and temporal order memory.

The first helps you remember where you put your car keys and the second  helps you recall when you last had them. Neither form of memory will work if  there is a disconnection between regions of the brain that collaborate to help  you recall events or people.

So when you tell someone that you didn’t recognize them with those clothes on,  you’re not being rude. It’s because there’s no connection being made between  your hippocampus and either the perirhinal cortex or the medial prefrontal  cortex. Make sure you explain this, or they’ll think you’ve been spying through  their window like a paparazzi photographer.

It’s the same with community monitored TV. Often, several people can see the same person on screen and have a different recollection of him. But because they are all connected, they can share information and build a whole picture. It makes the difference between spotting danger and remaining oblivious.

So, imagine several members of the community are watching their Jabbakams at the same time, because Lady GaGa’s in town, with a paparazzi following. When a rather suspicious man is spotted, each CMTV watcher becomes the equivalent of one of the brain’s regions.

“I recognise that man,” says one CMTV watcher, who we’ll call Hippocampus, “he was on Newsnight defending hacking.”

This instant message stimulates a response a fellow CMTV viewer. “That’s right,” says Perirhinal Cortex’, “he told Jeremy Paxman that invading people’s homes is in the public interest.”

This intelligence, in turn, jogs the memory of another member of the Cortex family. “In Fleet Street, he’s known as ‘the bin man’. He goes through people’s rubbish looking for dirt on celebrities,” says a CMTV watcher we’ll call Medial Pre Frontal Cortex.

Everyone agrees this man should be the one they watch like a hawk while the media scrum is in town.

CMTV’s members collectively work like a brain and help to put the clothes on the naked tabloid dirtbag. And make their binbags and laundry baskets safer places.

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