Does prosopagnosia take the eyes out of face representations? Evidence for a defect in representing diagnostic facial information following brain damage.

Caldara, R., Schyns, P.G., Mayer, E., Smith, M.L., Gosselin, F. and Rossion, B. (2005) Does prosopagnosia take the eyes out of face representations? Evidence for a defect in representing diagnostic facial information following brain damage. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 17(10), pp. 1652-1666.

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Abstract

One of the most impressive disorders following brain damage to the ventral occipitotemporal cortex is prosopagnosia, or the inability to recognize faces. Although acquired prosopagnosia with preserved general visual and memory functions is rare, several cases have been described in the neuropsychological literature and studied at the functional and neural level over the last decades. Here we tested a brain damaged patient (PS) presenting a deficit restricted to the category of faces to clarify the nature of the missing and preserved components of the face processing system when it is selectively damaged. Following learning to identify 10 neutral and happy faces through extensive training, we investigated patient PS s recognition of faces using Bubbles, a response classification technique that sampled facial information across the faces in different bandwidths of spatial frequencies [Gosselin, F. & Schyns, P. E., Bubbles: A technique to reveal the use of information in recognition tasks. Vision Research, 41, 2261 2271, 2001]. Although PS gradually used less information (i.e., the number of bubbles) to identify faces over testing, the total information required was much larger than for normal controls and decreased less steeply with practice. Most importantly, the facial information used to identify individual faces differed between PS and controls. Specifically, in marked contrast to controls, PS did not use the optimal eye information to identify familiar faces, but instead the lower part of the face, including the mouth and the external contours, as normal observers typically do when processing unfamiliar faces. Together, the findings reported here suggest that damage to the face processing system is characterized by an inability to use the information that is optimal to judge identity, focusing instead on suboptimal information.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Caldara, Professor Roberto and Schyns, Professor Philippe
Authors: Caldara, R., Schyns, P.G., Mayer, E., Smith, M.L., Gosselin, F., and Rossion, B.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology
Journal Name:Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

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