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Richard Russell, Brad Duchaine, Ken Nakayama; Extraordinary face recognition. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):629. doi: 10.1167/7.9.629.
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In recent years several laboratories have independently established the existence of individuals who are significantly worse than normal at recognizing faces, despite an absence of apparent neurological damage. However, it is not clear whether these “developmental prosopagnosics” have a pathological condition or simply represent the low end of a continuous distribution of face recognition abilities. Studying people with especially strong face recognition abilities may help to answer this question, as well as provide information regarding the natural range of abilities of this faculty. We are in contact with several individuals who self-identify as having face recognition that is significantly better than ordinary. These individuals describe their face recognition abilities in strong terms, for example “I have a photographic memory for faces. It has been my entire life, but it doesn't matter how many years pass, if I've seen your face before I will be able to recall it. It happens only with faces.”, or “I often pick out the bit part actors, able to place them from brief roles in movies and television I have seen ten and fifteen years prior.”, or “I often pretend not to recognize someone because it scares them if I say, ‘Oh, I remember you, you were behind me in line at a supermarket in 1996 wearing a yellow soccer jersey!’” Preliminary investigations of one individual found unusually high performance on several tests of face recognition and face perception, as well as object recognition. We report results from several experiments with these individuals, including tests of recognition memory for familiar and unfamiliar faces, face perception (discrimination), facial expression recognition, and object recognition.
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