Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Congenital prosopagnosia is a severe impairment in face identification manifested from early childhood in the absence of any evident brain lesion. In this study, we used fMRI to compare the brain activity elicited by faces in a congenital prosopagnosic subject (YT) relative to a control group of 12 subjects in an attempt to shed more light on the nature of the brain mechanisms subserving face identification. The face-related activation pattern of YT in the ventral occipito-temporal cortex was similar to that observed in the control group on several parameters: anatomical location, activation profiles, and hemispheric laterality. In addition, using a modified vase – face illusion, we found that YT's brain activity in the face-related regions manifested global grouping processes. However, subtle differences in the degree of selectivity between objects and faces were observed in the lateral occipital cortex. These data suggest that face-related activation in the ventral occipito-temporal cortex, although necessary, might not be sufficient by itself for normal face identification.