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Face gender recognition in developmental prosopagnosia: Evidence for holistic processing and use of configural information

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Face identification deficits in developmental prosopagnosics (DPs) have been thought to be due to general difficulties with processing configural face information and integrating configural and parts information into a coherent whole (holistic processing). Gender recognition provides a further opportunity to more fully examine this issue as this ability may be intact in DPs and it has been shown to depend on processing configural information and holistic processing in neurotypical individuals. In the present study we first determined that, indeed, gender discrimination performance was similar in DPs and controls. Second, we found that inversion and scrambling (which we propose measures holistic processing and sensitivity to configural information, respectively) produced comparable deficits in DPs and controls, suggesting that both groups use holistic processing and configural information to recognize gender. This indicates that holistic processing and using configural face information are not general impairments in DP and may be more specific to face identity.
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Keywords: Developmental prosopagnosia; Face inversion; Gender recognition; Holistic processing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Jamaica Plain, MA, USA 2: Vision Sciences Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA

Publication date: 01 December 2012

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