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Holistic processing of facial identity in developmental prosopagnosia

Tsantani, M., Gray, K. L. H. and Cook, R. (2020) Holistic processing of facial identity in developmental prosopagnosia. Cortex, 130. pp. 318-326. ISSN 0010-9452

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2020.06.003


The nature of the perceptual deficit seen in developmental prosopagnosia remains poorly understood. One possibility is that these individuals experience face recognition difficulties because they fail to process faces holistically; they may be less able to analyze distal regions in parallel and therefore struggle to integrate information from different regions into a unified perceptual whole. Consequently, developmental prosopagnosics may be forced to base perceptual decisions on a slow, effortful piecemeal analysis of local facial features. In the present study, we sought to test this view by comparing the face recognition of developmental prosopagnosics and typical observers under two viewing conditions: when target faces were briefly presented in their entirety, and when they were inspected region-by-region through a dynamic aperture. If developmental prosopagnosics are forced to base perceptual decisions on information accumulated from a serial piecemeal analysis, one would expect little if any decrement in performance when target faces are viewed through apertures. Contrary to this prediction, however, developmental prosopagnosics showed strong aperture effects comparable with typical observers; their perceptual decisions were more accurate in the whole-face condition than when targets were viewed through the aperture. As expected, the developmental prosopagnosics were less accurate than typical controls when judging briefly presented faces shown in their entirety. Strikingly, however, they were also less able to accumulate perceptual evidence from a serial region-by-region analysis, than typical observers. Our results suggest that the perceptual problems seen in this population arise from imprecise descriptions of local regions, not aberrant holistic processing.

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:91180


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