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Face blindness and person misidentification in non-scientific parlance

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... As there is an increasing body of evidence on reports of prosopagnosia, in both scientific and nonscientific media (Della Sala and Schweinberger, 2013), the future decade holds promise regarding a better understanding of normal and abnormal face perception. But this will require putting the debate on face perception in the broader context of object recognition on the one hand, and of affect perception on the other. ...
Article
Prosopagnosia refers to impaired recognition of faces. The article first describes the different etiological factors and clinical phenotypes of prosopagnosia: developmental and acquired prosopagnosia for the former and apperceptive, associative, amnestic, and multimodal prosopagnosia for the latter. This includes a review of the face and function specificity of the deficit. Subsequently, the results from neuroimaging studies are discussed. The article ends with a paragraph on neurodegeneration and prosopagnosia.
... Five items are reverse scored (strongly agree is scored '1' and strongly disagree is scored '5'). Table-1 Items were generated following review of the qualitative [16,18,19,[37][38][39] and quantitative literature (e.g. [1,2]) on DP, and through discussions with DPs. ...
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Self-report plays a key role in the identification of developmental prosopagnosia (DP), providing complementary evidence to computer-based tests of face recognition ability, aiding interpretation of scores. However, the lack of standardised self-report instruments has contributed to heterogeneous reporting standards for self-report evidence in DP research. The lack of standardisation prevents comparison across samples and limits investigation of the relationship between objective tests of face processing and self-report measures. To address these issues, the present paper introduces the PI20; a twenty-item self-report measure for quantifying prosopagnosic traits. The new instrument successfully distinguishes suspected prosopagnosics from typically developed adults. Strong correlations were also observed between PI20 scores and performance on objective tests of familiar and unfamiliar face recognition ability, confirming that people have the necessary insight into their own face recognition ability required by a self-report instrument. Importantly, PI20 scores did not correlate with recognition of non-face objects, indicating that the instrument measures face- recognition, and not a general perceptual impairment. These results suggest that the PI20 can play a valuable role in identifying DP. A freely available self-report instrument will permit more effective description of self-report diagnostic evidence, thereby facilitating greater comparison of prosopagnosic samples, and more reliable classification.
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Voices carry large amounts of socially relevant information on persons, much like 'auditory faces'. Following Bruce and Young (1986)'s seminal model of face perception, we propose that the cerebral processing of vocal information is organized in interacting but functionally dissociable pathways for processing the three main types of vocal information: speech, identity, and affect. The predictions of the 'auditory face' model of voice perception are reviewed in the light of recent clinical, psychological, and neuroimaging evidence.
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The fusiform face area (FFA) is involved in face perception to such an extent that some claim it is a brain module for faces exclusively. The other possibility is that FFA is modulated by experience in individuation in any visual domain, not only faces. Here we test this latter FFA expertise hypothesis using the game of chess as a domain of investigation. We exploited the characteristic of chess, which features multiple objects forming meaningful spatial relations. In three experiments, we show that FFA activity is related to stimulus properties and not to chess skill directly. In all chess and non-chess tasks, experts' FFA was more activated than that of novices' only when they dealt with naturalistic full-board chess positions. When common spatial relationships formed by chess objects in chess positions were randomly disturbed, FFA was again differentially active only in experts, regardless of the actual task. Our experiments show that FFA contributes to the holistic processing of domain-specific multipart stimuli in chess experts. This suggests that FFA may not only mediate human expertise in face recognition but, supporting the expertise hypothesis, may mediate the automatic holistic processing of any highly familiar multipart visual input.
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Expertise with unfamiliar objects ('greebles') recruits face-selective areas in the fusiform gyrus (FFA) and occipital lobe (OFA). Here we extend this finding to other homogeneous categories. Bird and car experts were tested with functional magnetic resonance imaging during tasks with faces, familiar objects, cars and birds. Homogeneous categories activated the FFA more than familiar objects. Moreover, the right FFA and OFA showed significant expertise effects. An independent behavioral test of expertise predicted relative activation in the right FFA for birds versus cars within each group. The results suggest that level of categorization and expertise, rather than superficial properties of objects, determine the specialization of the FFA.
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We tested 4 people who claimed to have significantly better than ordinary face recognition ability. Exceptional ability was confirmed in each case. On two very different tests of face recognition, all 4 experimental subjects performed beyond the range of control subject performance. They also scored significantly better than average on a perceptual discrimination test with faces. This effect was larger with upright than with inverted faces, and the 4 subjects showed a larger "inversion effect" than did control subjects, who in turn showed a larger inversion effect than did developmental prosopagnosics. This result indicates an association between face recognition ability and the magnitude of the inversion effect. Overall, these "super-recognizers" are about as good at face recognition and perception as developmental prosopagnosics are bad. Our findings demonstrate the existence of people with exceptionally good face recognition ability and show that the range of face recognition and face perception ability is wider than has been previously acknowledged.
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Phonagnosia, the inability to recognize familiar voices, has been studied in brain-damaged patients but no cases due to developmental problems have been reported. Here we describe the case of KH, a 60-year-old active professional woman who reports that she has always experienced severe voice recognition difficulties. Her hearing abilities are normal, and an MRI scan showed no evidence of brain damage in regions associated with voice or auditory perception. To better understand her condition and to assess models of voice and high-level auditory processing, we tested KH on behavioural tasks measuring voice recognition, recognition of vocal emotions, face recognition, speech perception, and processing of environmental sounds and music. KH was impaired on tasks requiring the recognition of famous voices and the learning and recognition of new voices. In contrast, she performed well on nearly all other tasks. Her case is the first report of developmental phonagnosia, and the results suggest that the recognition of a speaker's vocal identity depends on separable mechanisms from those used to recognize other information from the voice or non-vocal auditory stimuli.
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Voice and face recognition were tested in 21 left- and 9 right-hemisphere-damaged patients. Test materials were photographs and recordings of famous political and entertainment personalities. Pathological face recognition (prosopagnosia) and voice recognition (phonagnosia) were both significantly more prevalent in the right-hemisphere group. Only one instance of prosopagnosia and one of phonagnosia were observed in the left-hemisphere group, all of whom were aphasic. Of the right-hemisphere cases, there were four instances of each agnosia, with three patients showing a dual impairment. These findings are discussed in relation to differential modes of processing by the two cerebral hemispheres.
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Although they cannot recognise people from their faces, prosopagnosic patients are frequently able to identify people from their voices or clothing. They can also retrieve information about these people in response to their name (e.g. De Haan, Young, & Newcombe, 1987). In contrast, we present details of a patient, BD, who, following herpes simplex encephalitis, has difficulty in identifying people from their face, their name, and their voice. This seems to be a form of semantic memory impairment, and for BD it appears in the context of a more general impairment of knowledge of living things. In learning tasks similar to those used by De Haan et al. (1987) and Kapur, Heath, Meudell, and Kennedy (1986), however, BD shows evidence of preserved access to information concerning people that he does not recognise from their face or name. The pattern of preserved access that is revealed is more extensive than that shown by De Haan et al.'s prosopagnosic patient PH. BD shows covert knowledge of the political background of politicians whose faces he does not recognise overtly and covert knowledge of the football teams of soccer players whose names he does not find familiar. It is suggested that unlike PH, whose difficulties seem to occur at the level of face recognition units, BD's problems also reflect difficulty in gaining overt access to, and output from, mental representations of precise person semantic information.
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Young adult participants are known to more accurately remember faces from both their own age- and ethnic groups. The present study examined combined effects of such own-age and own-race biases by asking young Caucasian participants to learn and remember elderly and young Caucasian as well as elderly and young Asian faces. Neural correlates were assessed by recording event-related potentials (ERPs). Behavioral results indicated both an own-race bias for young but not elderly faces, and an own-age bias for Caucasian but not Asian faces. Importantly, no additional decrease in recognition memory for other-race/other-age faces was detected. An early parietal ERP old/new effect (300-500 ms) was most pronounced for young Caucasian "in-group" faces, while the old/new effect in a later time window (500-800 ms) was generally larger for own- as compared to other-race faces. In conclusion, these findings suggest at least partly different neural processes to accompany the own-race and own-age biases.
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Patients with prosopagnosia are unable to recognize faces consciously, but when tested indirectly they can reveal residual identification abilities. The neural circuitry underlying this covert recognition is still unknown. One candidate for this function is the partial survival of a pathway linking the fusiform face area (FFA) and anterior-inferior temporal (AIT) cortex, which has been shown to be essential for conscious face identification. Here we performed functional magnetic, and diffusion tensor imaging in FE, a patient with severe prosopagnosia, with the goal of identifying the neural substrates of his robust covert face recognition. FE presented massive bilateral lesions in the fusiform gyri that eliminated both FFAs, and also disrupted the fibers within the inferior longitudinal fasciculi that link the visual areas with the AITs and medial temporal lobes. Therefore participation of the fusiform-temporal pathway in his covert recognition was precluded. However, face-selective activations were found bilaterally in his occipital gyri and in his extended face system (posterior cingulate and orbitofrontal areas), the latter with larger responses for previously-known faces than for faces of strangers. In the right hemisphere, these surviving face selective-areas were connected via a partially persevered inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus. This suggests an alternative occipito-frontal pathway, absent from current models of face processing, that could explain the patient's covert recognition while also playing a role in unconscious processing during normal cognition.
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Is the human mind/brain composed of a set of highly specialized components, each carrying out a specific aspect of human cognition, or is it more of a general-purpose device, in which each component participates in a wide variety of cognitive processes? For nearly two centuries, proponents of specialized organs or modules of the mind and brain--from the phrenologists to Broca to Chomsky and Fodor--have jousted with the proponents of distributed cognitive and neural processing--from Flourens to Lashley to McClelland and Rumelhart. I argue here that research using functional MRI is beginning to answer this long-standing question with new clarity and precision by indicating that at least a few specific aspects of cognition are implemented in brain regions that are highly specialized for that process alone. Cortical regions have been identified that are specialized not only for basic sensory and motor processes but also for the high-level perceptual analysis of faces, places, bodies, visually presented words, and even for the very abstract cognitive function of thinking about another person's thoughts. I further consider the as-yet unanswered questions of how much of the mind and brain are made up of these functionally specialized components and how they arise developmentally.
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A patient with prosopagnosia is described. It is suggested that the deficit in this case is primarily apperceptive, and possible associated symptoms were investigated. The fact that the patient did not present initially as brain damaged is discussed.
Article
In order to determine the dissociability of face, voice, and personal name recognition, we studied the performance of 36 brain-lesioned patients and 20 control subjects. Participants performed familiarity decisions for portraits, voice samples, and written names of celebrities and unfamiliar people. In those patients who displayed significant impairments in any of these tests, the specificity of these impairments was tested using corresponding object recognition tests (with pictures of objects, environmental sounds, or written common words as stimuli). The results showed that 58% of the patients were significantly impaired in at least one test of person recognition. Moreover, 28% of the patients showed impairments that appeared to be specific for people (i.e., performance was preserved in the corresponding object recognition test). Three patients showed a deficit that appeared to be confined to the recognition of familiar voices, a pattern that was not described previously. Results were generally consistent with the assumption that impairments in face, voice, and name recognition are dissociable from one another. In contrast, there was no clear evidence for a dissociability between deficits in face and voice naming. The results further suggest that (a) impairments in person recognition after brain lesions may be more common than was thought previously and (b) the patterns of impairment that were observed can be interpreted using current cognitive models of person recognition (Bruce & Young, 1986; Burton, Bruce, & Johnston, 1990).
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Face perception is a function with significant complexity, reflected in cognitive models that propose a hierarchy of parallel and serial processing stages. Current neuroimaging data also show that face perception involves a core processing network of cortical modules, which are likely specialized for different functions involved in face processing. The core face processing network is further linked to an extended face processing network which is not solely involved in the perception of faces, but rather contains modules mediating the processing of semantic, biographic and emotional information about people. The segregation of these processes within discrete anatomic regions creates the potential for disconnection between regions to generate neuropsychological deficits involving faces. In this review we consider the types of disconnection possible both within the core face processing system and between the core and extended systems, the pattern of deficits that would be considered as evidence of such disconnections, the potential anatomy of lesions that would create them, and whether any cases exist that meet these criteria.
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