September 2015
Volume 15, Issue 12
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2015
Are reading and face processing related? A study of word processing in developmental prosopagnosia.
Author Affiliations
  • Randi Starrfelt
    Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Solja Klargaard
    Department of Psychology, University of Southern Denmark
  • Anders Petersen
    Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Christian Gerlach
    Department of Psychology, University of Southern Denmark
Journal of Vision September 2015, Vol.15, 918. doi:10.1167/15.12.918
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      Randi Starrfelt, Solja Klargaard, Anders Petersen, Christian Gerlach; Are reading and face processing related? A study of word processing in developmental prosopagnosia.. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):918. doi: 10.1167/15.12.918.

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

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Traditionally, perceptual processing of faces and words is considered highly specialized, strongly lateralized, and largely independent. This has, however, recently been challenged by studies showing that learning to read may affect the perceptual and neural processes involved in face recognition. In this light, investigating face processing in dyslexia, and reading in prosopagnosia becomes interesting: Do deficits in the two domains dissociate? Developmental prosopagnosia (DP) is a disorder of face processing in the absence of brain injury, and in the context of normal intelligence and general cognitive development. In three experiments, we investigated reading performance in a group of 11 participants with DP and matched controls: First, we examined if reading speed was affected by word length. Secondly, we compared RTs for single word and single letter stimuli. Third, we measured the word superiority effect in accuracy of word and letter report with brief exposure durations. These data were also analysed using methods based on a Theory of Visual Attention1, to extract estimates of perceptual processing speed for words and letters. We find that the group of DPs perform well within the normal range on all reading tests. They show normal reading RTs, and no abnormal word length effects. They also show an RT advantage for short words over single letters, as we have previously found in normal subjects.2 The DP group also show the typical word superiority effect, reflected in better overall accuracy, a lower perceptual threshold, and higher processing speed for words compared to letters. In sum, we find no evidence that reading skills are abnormal in developmental prosopagnosia, a finding that may challenge the recently proposed hypothesis that reading development and face processing abilities are intrinsically linked. References 1 Bundesen, C. (1990). Psych.Rev., 97, 523-547. 2 Starrfelt, R., et al. (2013). Front.Hum.Neurosci., 7, 519.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015


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