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New evidence of impaired expression recognition in developmental prosopagnosia

Tsantani, M., Gray, K. L. H. ORCID: and Cook, R. (2022) New evidence of impaired expression recognition in developmental prosopagnosia. Cortex, 154. pp. 15-26. ISSN 0010-9452

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2022.05.008


Developmental prosopagnosia (DP) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by lifelong face recognition difficulties. To date, it remains unclear whether or not individuals with DP experience impaired recognition of facial expressions. It has been proposed that DPs may have sufficient perceptual ability to correctly interpret facial expressions when tasks are relatively easy (e.g., the stimuli are unambiguous and viewing conditions are optimal), but exhibit subtle impairments when tested under more challenging conditions. In the present study, we sought to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to test this view. It is well-established that the surgical-type masks worn during the pandemic hinder the recognition and interpretation of facial emotion in typical participants. Relative to typical participants, we hypothesized that DPs may be disproportionately impaired when asked to interpret the facial emotion of people wearing face masks. We compared the ability of 34 DPs and 60 age-matched typical controls to recognize facial emotions i) when the whole face is visible, and ii) when the lower portion of the face is covered with a surgical mask. When expression stimuli were viewed without a mask, the DPs and typical controls exhibited similar levels of performance. However, when expression stimuli were shown with a mask, the DPs showed signs of subtle expression recognition deficits. The DPs were particularly prone to mislabeling masked expressions of happiness as emotion neutral. These results add to a growing body of evidence that under some conditions, DPs do exhibit subtle deficits of expression recognition.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Perception and Action
ID Code:105941


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