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Richard Russell, Xiaomin Yue, Ken Nakayama, Roger B.H. Tootell; Neural differences between developmental prosopagnosics and super-recognizers. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):582. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/10.7.582.
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Developmental prosopagnosia (DP) is a condition marked by very poor face recognition ability despite normal vision and absence of brain damage. At the opposite end of the face recognition spectrum, super-recognizers are people who are exceptionally good at recognizing faces (Russell, Duchaine & Nakayama 2009). In previous fMRI studies, subjects with DP showed patterns of brain activity similar to normal subjects. Here we extended the range of face recognition ability by comparing fMRI activity in DPs versus super-recognizers. Test stimuli included 1) standard localizers for face-selective activity (face vs. place images), and 2) faces of normal versus reversed contrast polarity. In normal subjects, reversal of contrast polarity produces a deficit in both facial recognition and face-selective brain activity (George, et al, 1999; Gilad, Meng, Sinha, 2009). The results indicate that: 1) DPs had smaller Fusiform Face Areas (FFAs) than the super-recognizers, 2) super-recognizers showed higher face selectivity in FFA, compared to DPs; 3) super-recognizers had stronger responses to faces in FFA, compared to DPs; 3) In FFA, both groups showed a larger response to faces of normal contrast polarity, compared to faces of reversed contrast polarity; 5) in FFA, super-recognizers did not show a larger contrast polarity bias, compared to DPs. However, 6) super-recognizers did show a larger contrast polarity bias in the anterior temporal lobe, bilaterally. These results support previous evidence that some aspects of mid-level face processing (e.g. contrast polarity sensitivity in FFA) are automatic and bottom-up in nature, and do not differ as a function of facial recognition. Other aspects of our data (in FFA and the anterior temporal face region) may well be related to the facial recognition differences in these two populations.
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