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Brad Duchaine, Tirta Susilo, Victoria Wright, Jeremy Tree; Do face and word recognition deficits dissociate? A study of four acquired prosopagnosics. Journal of Vision 2014;14(10):1435. doi: 10.1167/14.10.1435.
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Humans have extensive experience with both faces and words, and it has recently been proposed that face and word recognition rely on common mechanisms. This view predicts that acquired prosopagnosics will show word recognition deficits, though possibly to a lesser extent (Behrmann & Plaut, 2013 TICS). While normal word recognition in prosopagnosia has been reported before, it has not been examined rigorously with multiple tasks that incorporate response time. Here we investigated whether face and word recognition deficits co-mingle in four acquired prosopagnosics. Three prosopagnosics had lesions limited to the right hemisphere while one had bilateral lesions with more pronounced lesions in the right hemisphere. All reported problems with face recognition in daily life, but believed that their word recognition ability was normal. All showed severe face recognition impairments on standard laboratory tests. The prosopagnosics completed seven word recognition tasks: two lexical decision tasks and five reading aloud tasks, totaling more than 1,200 test items. All of them performed in the normal range across all tasks, and they were just as fast in responding as the controls. Our findings demonstrate that word recognition ability can be spared in acquired prosopagnosia and suggest that face recognition relies, at least in part, on mechanisms different than those used for word recognition.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2014
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