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Chris Waite, Rebecca Hefter, Itzhak Aharon, Chris Fox, Jason Barton; Facial attraction: a study of the aesthetic dimension of face processing in prosopagnosia. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):630. doi: 10.1167/7.9.630.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Background: Attractiveness is the perception of a facial property that has seldom been investigated in patient populations. On the one hand, it is a social signal, and thus may depend on processing in the superior temporal sulcus, but on the other it seems likely that attractiveness may depend on elements of facial structure that do not change with dynamic shifts in expression or gaze, and thus processed by the fusiform face area.
Objective: We investigated the status of facial attractiveness perception in prosopagnosia, an impairment in the recognition of another temporally invariant property of faces, their identity. We hypothesized that if attractiveness is processed by regions that encode the temporally invariant properties of faces, such as the fusiform face area, then these patients should be universally impaired on this function.
Method: We studied eight prosopagnosic subjects in two separate tasks: one testing their explicit rating of attractiveness and the other an attractiveness-motivated keypress behaviour.
Results: Both tasks showed that the prosopagnosics were impaired in processing facial attractiveness. Residual but impaired attractiveness. Residual but impaired attractiveness perception was found only in subjects with unilateral right-sided occipitotemporal lesions or anterior temporal lesions. Measures of perception of facial attraction also correlated with measures of residual familiarity for famous faces.Conclusion: The processing of facial attraction requires participation of the same neural structures that encode facial identity.
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