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Neurosci Lett. 2009 Apr 10;453(3):135-40. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2009.02.021. Epub 2009 Feb 14.

Visual mental imagery in congenital prosopagnosia.

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  • 1University of Bamberg, Faculty of Humanities, Department of General Psychology and Methodology, 96047 Bamberg, Germany.


Congenital prosopagnosia (cPA) is a selective impairment in the visual learning and recognition of faces without detectable brain damage or malformation. There is evidence that it can be inherited in an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. We assessed the capacity for visual mental imagery in 53 people with cPA using an adapted Marks' VVIQ (Vividness of Visual Imaging Questionnaire). The mean score of the prosopagnosic group showed the lowest mental imagery scores ever published for a non-brain damaged group. In a subsample of 12 people with cPA, we demonstrated that the cPA is a deficit of configural face processing. We suggest that the 'VVIQ-PA' (VVIQ-Prosopagnosia) questionnaire can help to confirm the diagnosis of cPA. Poor mental imagery, a configural face processing impairment and clinical prosopagnosia should be considered as symptoms of a yet poorly understood hereditary cerebral dysfunction.

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