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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2006 Apr;16(2):166-73. Epub 2006 Mar 24.

Developmental prosopagnosia: a window to content-specific face processing.

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  • 1Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, Alexandra House, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK.


Developmental prosopagnosia is characterized by severely impaired face recognition. Individuals with this disorder, which often runs in families, have no history of brain damage and intact early visual processing systems. Recent research has also demonstrated that many developmental prosopagnosics have normal or relatively good object recognition, indicating that their impairments are not the result of deficits to a unitary visual recognition mechanism. To investigate the nature of the impaired mechanisms, extensive testing was done on an individual with especially pure face processing deficits. The results ruled out all extant explanations of prosopagnosia except one that proposed that faces are recognized by a content-specific face processing mechanism. fMRI and MEG studies show that there are a variety of neural profiles in developmental prosopagnosia, which is consistent with behavioral studies demonstrating that it is a heterogeneous disorder.

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