Preservation of mouth region processing in two cases of prosopagnosia

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Abstract

Although most adults are considered experts in face recognition, brain trauma can produce a selective loss in this ability, a condition referred to as prosopagnosia. This study examined the processing strategies of prosopagnosic patients LR and HH using the Face Dimensions Test. In this test, featural and configural information in the upper and lower halves of the face was parametrically varied and sensitivity to these changes measured. We found that relative to age-matched control participants, LR and HH exhibited an impaired ability to discriminate differences in the eye region, but a preserved ability to detect featural and configural differences in the mouth region. This pattern of impairment and sparing was demonstrated in tests of direct perception and immediate memory. The obtained findings demonstrate that prosopagnosia does not necessarily cause a global impairment to face perception, but a selective impairment to the perception of information in the upper half of the face.

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