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Laura Schmalzl, Romina Palermo, Melissa Green, Ruth Brunsdon, Max Coltheart; Training of familiar face recognition and visual scan paths for faces in a child with congenital prosopagnosia. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):412. doi: 10.1167/8.6.412.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In the current report we describe a successful training study aimed at improving familiar face recognition in K, a four year old girl with congenital prosopagnosia (CP). A detailed assessment of K's face processing skills showed a deficit in structural encoding, most pronounced in the processing of facial features within the face. In addition, eye movement recordings revealed that K's scan paths for faces were characterized by a large percentage of fixations directed to areas outside the internal core features (i.e. eyes, nose and mouth), in particular by poor attendance to the eye region. Following multiple baseline assessments, training focussed on teaching K to reliably recognize a set of familiar face photographs by directing visual attention to specific characteristics of the internal features of each face. The training significantly improved K's ability to recognize the target faces, with her performance being flawless immediately after training as well as at a follow up assessment one month later. In addition, eye movement recordings following training showed a significant change in K's scan paths, with a significant increase in the percentage of fixations directed to the internal features, particularly the eye region. Encouragingly, the change in scan paths was not only observed for the set of familiar faces, but it generalized to a set of faces that was not presented during training. In addition to documenting significant training effects, our study raises the intriguing question whether abnormal scan paths for faces may be a common factor underlying face recognition impairments in childhood CP, an issue that has not been explored so far.
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