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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

July 1, 2001, Vol. 13, No. 5, Pages 556-576
(doi: 10.1162/089892901750363163)
© 2001 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Prosopagnosia as a Deficit in Encoding Curved Surface
Article PDF (2.68 MB)

RP is a case of “developmental” prosopagnosia who, according to brain-imaging segmentation data, shows a reduction in volume of a limited set of structures of the right hemisphere. RP is as accurate as control subjects in tasks requiring the perception of nonface objects (e.g., matching subordinate labels to exemplars, naming two-tone images), with the exception of one perceptual task: The matching of different perspectives of amoebae-like stimuli (i.e., volumes made of a single smooth surface). In terms of speed (“efficiency”) of responses, RP's performance falls clearly outside the normal limits also in other tasks that include “natural” but nonface stimuli (i.e., animals, artifacts). Specifically, RP is slow in perceptual judgments made at very low (subordinate) levels of semantic categorization and for objects and artifacts whose geometry present much curved features and surface information. We conclude from these analyses that prosopagnosia can be the result of a deficit in the representation of basic geometric volumes made of curved surface. In turn, this points to the importance (necessity) for the normal visual system of such curved and volumetric information in the identification of human faces.