September 2011
Volume 11, Issue 11
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2011
Developmental Prosopagnosia: A childhood case study
Author Affiliations
  • Jordan Mathison
    University of Minnesota, Institute of Child Development, USA
  • Sherryse Corrow
    University of Minnesota, Institute of Child Development, USA
  • Michelle Platt
    University of Minnesota, Institute of Child Development, USA
  • Kelly King
    University of Minnesota, Pediatric Neuropsychology, USA
  • Richard Ziegler
    University of Minnesota, Pediatric Neuropsychology, USA
  • Garga Chatterjee
    Harvard University, Psychology, USA
  • Ken Nakayama
    Harvard University, Psychology, USA
  • Albert Yonas
    University of Minnesota, Institute of Child Development, USA
Journal of Vision September 2011, Vol.11, 571. doi:
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      Jordan Mathison, Sherryse Corrow, Michelle Platt, Kelly King, Richard Ziegler, Garga Chatterjee, Ken Nakayama, Albert Yonas; Developmental Prosopagnosia: A childhood case study. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):571. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Developmental prosopagnosia refers to an inability to recognize faces despite typical intellectual functioning, emotion and object recognition, and no evidence of brain injury. Very little is known about this disorder in children. We present a case study of a child, henceforth referred to as B, who reported extreme difficulty in recognizing faces. Participant: B is a healthy 7 year old male with no history of neurological or behavioral disorder. His parents report that he is above-average in intelligence and very social. He has no history of visual impairment other than a deficit in face recognition. Methods: We evaluated B's face recognition skills using a variety of measures for which we have been collecting normative data. We examined his ability to recognize faces, discriminate between faces, identify emotion, and recognize objects. A clinical neuropsychologist also evaluated B using a wide variety of measures. Finally, we employed a training program to improve B's ability to recognize the faces of familiar people in his life. Results: On our test of face recognition, B answered correctly on 46.8% of trials (50% is chance); average performance of 8 year olds on this test is 80% (sd = 10.7, n = 43). These results provide evidence of a severe deficit in face recognition. B showed no evidence of a similar deficit in the ability to discriminate faces, recognize objects, and identify emotion. The neuropsychological evaluation also found a deficit in face recognition despite intact object recognition, memory, emotion recognition, and above-average IQ. Finally, we successfully trained him to identify photographs of 30 familiar people; however, he used local characteristics of the photograph to recognize the faces. Discussion: This is one of very few studies of children with developmental prosopagnosia and the first comparison of a DP child using measures collected from a large sample of typical children.

NIH Grant “Visual Psychophysics of Human Face Processing” and NIH Grant T32 HD007151 “Interdisciplinary Training Program in Cognitive Science”. 

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