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Eye-movement strategies in developmental prosopagnosia and "super" face recognition

Bobak AK, Parris BA, Gregory NJ, Bennetts RJ & Bate S (2017) Eye-movement strategies in developmental prosopagnosia and "super" face recognition, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 70 (2), pp. 201-217.

Developmental prosopagnosia (DP) is a cognitive condition characterized by a severe deficit in face recognition. Few investigations have examined whether impairments at the early stages of processing may underpin the condition, and it is also unknown whether DP is simply the “bottom end” of the typical face-processing spectrum. To address these issues, we monitored the eye-movements of DPs, typical perceivers, and “super recognizers” (SRs) while they viewed a set of static images displaying people engaged in naturalistic social scenarios. Three key findings emerged: (a) Individuals with more severe prosopagnosia spent less time examining the internal facial region, (b) as observed in acquired prosopagnosia, some DPs spent less time examining the eyes and more time examining the mouth than controls, and (c) SRs spent more time examining the nose—a measure that also correlated with face recognition ability in controls. These findings support previous suggestions that DP is a heterogeneous condition, but suggest that at least the most severe cases represent a group of individuals that qualitatively differ from the typical population. While SRs seem to merely be those at the “top end” of normal, this work identifies the nose as a critical region for successful face recognition. © 2016 The Experimental Psychology Society

Prosopagnosia; super recognizers; face recognition; eye movements; individual differences

AuthorsBobak Anna Katarzyna, Parris Benjamin A, Gregory Nicola Jean, Bennetts Rachel J, Bate Sarah
Publication date2017
Publication date online31/03/2016
Date accepted by journal24/01/2016
PublisherTaylor and Francis
ISSN 1747-0218

Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology: Volume 70, Issue 2 (2016)

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