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Does developmental prosopagnosia impair identification of other-ethnicity faces?

Cenac, Z., Biotti, F., Gray, K. L. H. and Cook, R. (2019) Does developmental prosopagnosia impair identification of other-ethnicity faces? Cortex, 119. pp. 12-19. ISSN 0010-9452

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2019.04.007


Current approaches to the diagnosis of developmental prosopagnosia emphasise the perception and identification of same-ethnicity faces. This convention ensures that perceptual impairment arising from developmental prosopagnosia can be distinguished from problems arising from a lack of visual experience with particular facial ethnicities – the so-called ‘Other-Ethnicity Effect’. The present study sought to determine whether the perceptual difficulties seen in developmental prosopagnosia – diagnosed using same-ethnicity faces – extend to other-ethnicity faces. First, we sought to determine whether a group of Caucasian developmental prosopagnosics (N = 15) and typical Caucasian controls (N = 30) had similar experience with same- and other-ethnicity faces during development. All participants therefore completed a contact questionnaire that enquired about their experience of Caucasian, Black, and East Asian faces, at different developmental stages. Importantly, the two groups described very similar levels of visual experience with other-ethnicity faces. Second, we administered a sequential matching task to measure participants’ ability to discriminate same- (Caucasian) and other-ethnicity (Black, East Asian) faces. Relative to the experience-matched controls, the prosopagnosics were less accurate at discriminating both same- and other-ethnicity faces, and we found no evidence of disproportionate impairment for same-ethnicity faces. Given that the prosopagnosics and controls had similar opportunity to develop visual expertise for other-ethnicity faces, these results indicate that developmental prosopagnosia impairs recognition of both same- and other-ethnicity faces. The fact that developmental prosopagnosia affects the perception of both same- and other-ethnicity faces suggests that different facial ethnicities engage similar visual processing mechanisms. Our findings support the view that susceptibility to developmental prosopagnosia, and a lack of contact with other-ethnicity faces, contribute independently to the poor recognition of other-ethnicity faces.

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:83175


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