Sheep Can Recognize Celebrity Faces in Photos

09 November, 2017, 01:23 | Author: Yolanda Murray
  • A sheep. Smarter than it looks

Sheep have been trained to recognise the faces of celebrities, including former United States president Barack Obama, by University of Cambridge scientists who hope it may help with understanding neurodegenerative diseases.

"We've shown that sheep have advanced face-recognition abilities, comparable with those of humans and monkeys", Professor Jenny Morton, who led the study, said in a statement. But it's been unclear whether the skill was real recognition or simple memorization. First, the team familiarized the sheep with the celebrities' faces by showing the faces opposite a black screen or random objects.

Jake Gyllenhaal, seen here with an animal that is not a sheep.

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Tapping on the "correct" portrait would reward the sheep with food while choosing the wrong face would result in no food and a sound being played. The sheep were having two options in each step as a photo of celebrity face or another is of something else. However, the ability of sheep to identify faces was unclear. When a portrait of the handler was interspersed randomly, the sheep chose them seven out of 10 times. Recognizing a person that is familiar from 3-D life requires "complex image processing", the authors say, because the sheep must translate their memory of the person to a 2-D picture.

To see if the sheep were just memorizing shapes, researchers did the same test, but with pictures in which the celebs' heads were tilted right or left. However, their ability to recognize human faces from photos alone is novel. The scientists have been rewarded better for measuring the brain functions of sheep.

Morton is using sheep as models for studying human brain disorders.

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The Cambridge congregation included eight Welsh Mountain female sheep that learned successfully four different faces of celebrities, during the experiment.

Sheep can recognize human faces in photos at a level that's comparable to humans.

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