Non-rigid, but not rigid, motion interferes with the processing of structural face information in developmental prosopagnosia

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Abstract

There is growing evidence to suggest that facial motion is an important cue for face recognition. However, it is poorly understood whether motion is integrated with facial form information or whether it provides an independent cue to identity. To provide further insight into this issue, we compared the effect of motion on face perception in two developmental prosopagnosics and age-matched controls. Participants first learned faces presented dynamically (video), or in a sequence of static images, in which rigid (viewpoint) or non-rigid (expression) changes occurred. Immediately following learning, participants were required to match a static face image to the learned face. Test face images varied by viewpoint (Experiment 1) or expression (Experiment 2) and were learned or novel face images. We found similar performance across prosopagnosics and controls in matching facial identity across changes in viewpoint when the learned face was shown moving in a rigid manner. However, non-rigid motion interfered with face matching across changes in expression in both individuals with prosopagnosia compared to the performance of control participants. In contrast, non-rigid motion did not differentially affect the matching of facial expressions across changes in identity for either prosopagnosics (Experiment 3). Our results suggest that whilst the processing of rigid motion information of a face may be preserved in developmental prosopagnosia, non-rigid motion can specifically interfere with the representation of structural face information. Taken together, these results suggest that both form and motion cues are important in face perception and that these cues are likely integrated in the representation of facial identity.

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