Yet, according to one authority on the subject, we can each probably recognise more than 1,000 faces, the majority of which differ in fine details. This, when one comes to think of it, is a tremendous feat, though, curiously enough, relatively little attention has been devoted to the fundamental problems of how and why we acquire this gift for recognizing and remembering faces. Is it an inborn property of our brains, or an acquired one? As so often happens, the experts tend to differ.

  The gift of being able to describe a face accurately is a rare one, as every experienced police officer knows to his cost. As the Lancet put it recently:” When we try to describe faces precisely words fail us, and we resort to identikit (拼脸型图) procedures.”

  Thus, some argue that it is inborn, and that there are “special characteristics about the brain’s ability to distinguish faces”. In support of this these they note how much better we are at recognizing a face after a single encounter than we are, for example, in recognizing an individual horse. On the other hand, there are those, and they are probably in the majority, who claim that the gift is an acquired one.

  But of all these, sight is predominant. Formed at the very beginning of life, the ability to recognize faces quickly becomes an established habit, and one that is, essential for daily living, if not necessarily for survival. How essential and valuable it is we probably do not appreciate until we encounter people who have been deprived of the faculty.

  The arguments in favour of this latter view, it must be confessed, are impressive. It is a habit that is acquired soon after birth. Watch, for instance, how a quite young baby recognises his member by sight. Granted that his other senses help – the sound other voice, his sense of smell, the distinctive way she handles him.
  This unfortunate inability to recognize familiar faces is known to all, but such people can often recognize individuals by their voices, their walking manners or their spectacles. With typical human ingenuity many of these unfortunate people overcome their handicap by recognizing other characteristic features.

  1. It is stated in the passage that ______.
  A. it is unusual for a person to be able to identify a face satisfactorily
  B. the ability to recognize faces unhesitatingly is an unusual gift
  C. quit a few people can visualize faces they have seen
  D. few people can give exact details of the appearance of a face

  2. What is the first suggested explanation of the origin of the ability?
  A. It is one of the characteristics peculiar to human beings.
  B. It is acquired soon after birth.
  C. It is something we can do from the very moment we are born.
  D. It is learned from our environment and experiences.

  3. What the author feels strange about is that _______.
  A. people have the tremendous ability to recognize more than 1,000 faces
  B. people don’t think much of the problem of how and why we acquire the ability to recognize and remember faces
  C. people don’t realize how essential and valuable it is for them to have the ability to recognize faces
  D. people have been arguing much over the way people recognize and remember faces

  4. According to the passage, how important is the ability to recognize faces?
  A. It is useful in daily life but is not necessarily essential.
  B. It is absence would make normal everyday life impossible.
  C. Under certain circumstances we could not exist without it.
  D. Normal social life would be difficult without it.

  5. This passage seems to emphasize that ______.
  A. the ability to recognize individuals is dependent on other senses as well as sight
  B. sight is indispensable to recognizing individuals
  C. the ability to recognise faces is a special inborn ability of the brain
  D. the importance of the ability of recognize faces in fully appreciated by people.

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