Scientists have found the strongest evidence to date that genes govern how well we keep track of who’s who. The findings suggest that face-recognition and other cognitive skills may be separate from each other, and independent of general intelligence. This could help explain what makes one person good at math but bad at music, or good at spatial navigation but bad at language. The ability to recognize faces is not just handy for cocktail parties, it’s crucial for distinguishing friend from foe and facilitating social interactions. If face recognition increases our ability to fend off predators and find mates, there is an evolutionary drive to encode this ability in our genes. To test this, scientists looked at whether the ability to recognize faces runs in the family. They found that identical twins, who share 100% of their genes, were more similar in their face-recognition ability than fraternal twins, who share only 50% of their genes. This suggests the ability to recognize faces is heritable.
Genetic Covariation Between Brain Volumes and IQ, Reading Performance, and Processing Speed (Betjemann et al. 2010)
What About Race, Brain Size and IQ?