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Neuropsychologia. 1999 Apr;37(4):455-65.

Fractionation of visual memory: evidence from a case with multiple neurodevelopmental impairments.

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Department of Clinical Neuropsychology, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Queen Square, London, UK.


It is known that the adult visual memory system is fractionable into functionally independent cognitive subsystems, selectively susceptible to brain damage. However, it is unclear whether these cognitive subsystems can fractionate developmentally. The present study describes an investigation of visual memory of a patient (PE) with multiple developmental disorders. PE was congenitally deaf, had Gilles de la Tourette syndrome and autism, with non-verbal ability in the normal range. The patient presented with a recognition memory impairment for unknown human faces. This contrasted with his superior recognition memory for unknown buildings, landscapes and outdoor scenes. PE's memory impairment for faces could not be explained by a general deficit in face processing. Interestingly, PE also showed a recognition memory impairment for animals. These findings indicate that different domains of the visual memory system can be fractionated developmentally. In particular, it demonstrates that topographical memory can develop independently from other aspects of visual memory.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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