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Researchers: Lack of proper sleep may impair facial recognition

Lack of proper sleep can impact the accuracy of face identification

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Representational Image. Pixabay
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  • The study found that poor sleepers were just as confident in their decisions, highlighting possible implications for security and policing
  • Researchers said that while most people would typically expect to perform well on these tasks, many are surprised at how many errors they make
  • Participants were asked to decide whether two images, presented on a computer monitor at the same time, pictured the same person or two different people

Melbourne, October 12, 2016: Lack of proper sleep can impact the accuracy of face identification, researchers have found, suggesting that the crucial “passport task” by officers can be affected by poor sleep.

It is often necessary to identify unfamiliar people by comparing face images: for example a CCTV image to a mugshot, or a passport photograph to a traveller.

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Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia and the University of Glasgow in the UK, found that accuracy of these decisions is impaired by poor sleep.

However, the study also found that poor sleepers were just as confident in their decisions, highlighting possible implications for security and policing.

Participants were asked to decide whether two images, presented on a computer monitor at the same time, pictured the same person or two different people.

The researchers set the task to differ from the face recognition tasks most of us encounter in our daily lives in two important ways: firstly, the people pictured in the images are unfamiliar.

Secondly, the task did not involve memory, because the images appear on the screen at the same time.

Researchers said that while most people would typically expect to perform well on these tasks, many are surprised at how many errors they make.

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Previous studies have shown impaired memory for faces following restricted sleep. However, until now it was not known whether lack of sleep impairs performance on face identification tasks that do not rely on recognition memory.

“We found that poor sleep in the three days leading up to the test was associated with poorer performance on the face matching test. In a separate experiment, we also found that participants with insomnia were poorer on the task,” said Louise Beattie, from the the University of Glasgow.

“Sleep disruption is common in the general population, and especially so among night-shift workers,” Beattie said.

“Here we show for the first time that performance in a crucial “passport task” is affected by poor sleep, and our research has important implications for those working in security or forensic settings,” she added.

“This adds to the literature showing poor sleep and shift work to be associated with a range of adverse health, cognitive and emotional effects,” she said.

The researchers said that poor sleep was not only associated with poorer performance, but also with higher levels of confidence in errors.

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“In modern society it is often necessary to identify unfamiliar people by comparing face images. In this study we show that the accuracy of these decisions is impaired in poor sleepers,” said David White, from UNSW.

“Worryingly, although poorer sleep was associated with reduced accuracy, poor sleepers were not less confident in their responses. This has important implications for security and policing, where shift work is common,” said White. (IANS)

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Sleep Deprivation: Why are Children Affected by it?

According to a survey, 25 to 30 percent children face sleep deprivation

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Sleep Deprivation
Sleep Deprivation is becoming common among children. Pixabay
  • Sleep deprivation is becoming a common scenario nowadays
  • 25 to 30 percent children face sleep deprivation
  • Sleep deprivation leads to poor attention and fall in academic performance of children

June 29, 2017: Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines sleep as the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored. Proper sleep is an essential to maintain good health as it relaxes our body and freshens up the mind.

However, nowadays sleep deprivation (a sufficient lack of restorative sleep over a cumulative period so as to cause physical or psychiatric symptoms and affect routine performances of tasks.) is becoming a common scenario, especially among children. According to a survey of National Sleep Foundation, 25 to 30 percent of normally developing children and adolescents are not getting enough sleep consistently.

The lack of sleep is leading to irritation, crankiness, poor social interactions, poor attention, worse grades and school absences amongst children.

Why are children sleep deprived?

  • Some children stay awake till late at night by personal choice. They choose to do so in order to complete their work or to have fun at night merely. Late night use of social media by adolescents has become a common phenomenon these days.
  • Some diseases such as cold and tonsillitis can cause snoring, gagging and frequent waking, and have a direct effect on sleep by fragmenting it.
  • Children can also be affected by sleep disorders such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea or Parasomnias or Behavioral Insomnia (Inability to sleep enough).
  • Some medications used to treat disorders such as epilepsy or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can also cause sleep deprivation.

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  • The improper sleeping environment may also contribute to sleep deprivation. If the room is too hot or too cold or there is continuous noise, children find it difficult to sleep.
  • Poor habits such as late night coffee stimulate the nervous system and make sleep less likely.
  • Stress is a major contributor to sleep deprivation. Lying in bed and worrying causes tension rather than relaxation.

Effects of Sleep deprivation in children

According to a research of National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation results in children in:

  • Poor concentration leading to a fall in academic performance.
  • Chronically sleep-deprived teenagers become more impulsive leading to risk-taking behaviors.
  • Sleeping problems increase the risk of disorders such as depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Children start getting negative feelings which may lead to depression.

By Nikita Tayal of NewsGram. Twitter: @NikitaTayal6