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Impaired face recognition does not preclude intact whole face perception

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We studied intact and impaired processes in a prosopagnosic patient (RP). In Experiment 1, RP showed an inversion superiority effect with both faces and objects, with better performance when stimuli were presented upside down than in normal upright orientation. In Experiment 2, we studied the effect of face configuration directly by comparing matching performance with normal vs. scrambled faces. RP was worse with normal than with scrambled faces, whereas normal controls showed an advantage of a good face context. In Experiment 3, RP showed interference from external face features on the evaluation of internal face features. These results indicate, first, that although RP is impaired in face recognition and face matching, he does still encode the whole face rather than relying completely on parts-based procedures. Second, RP has a deficit at the level of the configural processes involved in finding subtle differences between individual faces, as his performance is worse when presented with a normal face configuration than with scrambled or inverted faces.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2002


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