Cases reported "Prosopagnosia"

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1/3. prosopagnosia as a deficit in encoding curved surface.

    RP is a case of "developmental" prosopagnosia who, according to brain-imaging segmentation data, shows reduction in volume of a limited set of structures of the right hemisphere. RP is as accurate as control subjects in tasks requiring the perception of nonface objects (e.g., matching subordinate labels to exemplars, naming two-tone images), with the exception of one perceptual task: The matching of different perspectives of amoebae-like stimuli (i.e., volumes made of a single smooth surface). In terms of speed ("efficiency") of responses, RP's performance falls clearly outside the normal limits also in other tasks that include "natural" but nonface stimuli (i.e., animals, artia facts). Specifically, RP is slow in perceptual judgments made at very low (subordinate) levels of semantic categorization and for objects and artifacts whose geometry present much curved features and surface information. We conclude from these analyses that prosopagnosia can be the result of a deficit in the representation of basic geometric volumes made of curved surface. In turn, this points to the importance (necessity) for the normal visual system of such curved and volumetric information in the identification of human faces.
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2/3. Less impairment in face imagery than face perception in early prosopagnosia.

    There have been a number of reports of preserved face imagery in prosopagnosia. We put this issue to experimental test by comparing the performance of MJH, a 34-year-old prosopagnosic since the age of 5, to controls on tasks where the participants had to judge faces of current celebrities, either in terms of overall similarity (Of Bette Midler, Hillary Clinton, and Diane Sawyer, whose face looks least like the other two?) or on individual features (Is Ronald Reagan's nose pointy?). For each task, a performance measure reflecting the degree of agreement of each participant with the average of the others (not including MJH) was calculated. On the imagery versions of these tasks, MJH was within the lower range of the controls for the agreement measure (though significantly below the mean of the controls). When the same tasks were performed from pictures, agreement among the controls markedly increased whereas MJH's performance was virtually unaffected, placing him well below the range of the controls. This pattern was also apparent with a test of facial features of emotion (Are the eyes wrinkled when someone is surprised?). On three non-face imagery tasks assessing color (What color is a football?), relative lengths of animal's tails (Is a bear's tail long in proportion to its body?), and mental size comparisons (What is bigger, a camel or a zebra?), MJH was within or close to the lower end of the normal range. As most of the celebrities became famous after the onset of MJH's prosopagnosia, our confirmation of the reports of less impaired face imagery in some prosopagnosics cannot be attributed to pre-lesion storage. We speculate that face recognition, in contrast to object recognition, relies more heavily on a representation that describes the initial spatial filter values so the metrics of the facial surface can be specified. If prosopagnosia is regarded as a form of simultanagnosia in which some of these filter values cannot be registered on any one encounter with a face, then multiple opportunities for repeated storage may partially compensate for the degraded representation on that single encounter. Imagery may allow access to this more complete representation.
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3/3. How Berlusconi keeps his face: a neuropsychological study in a case of semantic dementia.

    A patient (V.Z.) is described as being affected by progressive bilateral atrophy of the mesial temporal lobes resulting in semantic dementia. Vis-a-vis virtually nil recognition of even the most familiar faces (including those of her closest relatives) as well as of objects and animals, V.Z. could nevertheless consistently recognize and name the face of Silvio Berlusconi, the mass media tycoon and current Italian Prime Minister. The experimental investigation led to the conclusion that Mr Berlusconi's face was seen as an icon rather than as a face. This telling effect of Mr Berlusconi's pervasive propaganda constitutes an unprecedented case in the neuropsychological literature.
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