Perceptual and Memorial Contributions to Developmental Prosopagnosia

Philip I. N. Ulrich, David Wilkinson, Heather Ferguson, Laura Smith, Markus Bindemann, Robert Johnston, Laura Schmalzl

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Developmental prosopagnosia (DP) is commonly associated with the failure toproperly perceive individuating facial properties, notably those conveyingconfigural or holistic content. While this may indicate that the primary impairmentis perceptual, it is conceivable that some cases of DP are instead caused by amemory impairment, with any perceptual complaint merely allied rather thancausal. To investigate this possibility, we administered a battery of face perceptiontasks to 11 individuals who reported that their face recognition difficulties disruptdaily activity and who also performed poorly on two formal tests of facerecognition. Group statistics identified, relative to age- and gender-matchedcontrols, difficulties in apprehending global–local relations and the holisticproperties of faces, and in matching across viewpoints, but these were mild innature and were not consistently evident at the level of individual participants. Sixof the 11 individuals failed to show any evidence of perceptual impairment. In theremainingfive individuals, no single perceptual deficit, or combination of deficits,was necessary or sufficient for poor recognition performance. These data suggestthat some cases of DP are better explained by a memorial rather than perceptualdeficit, and highlight the relevance of the apperceptive/associative distinction morecommonly applied to the allied syndrome of acquired prosopagnosia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-315
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date4 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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