Do congenital prosopagnosia and the other-race effect affect the same face recognition mechanisms?

Janina Esins, Johannes Schultz, Christian Wallraven, Isabelle Bülthoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Congenital prosopagnosia (CP), an innate impairment in recognizing faces, as well as the other-race effect (ORE), a disadvantage in recognizing faces of foreign races, both affect face recognition abilities. Are the same face processing mechanisms affected in both situations? To investigate this question, we tested three groups of 21 participants: German congenital prosopagnosics, South Korean participants and German controls on three different tasks involving faces and objects. First we tested all participants on the Cambridge Face Memory Test in which they had to recognize Caucasian target faces in a 3-alternative-forced-choice task. German controls performed better than Koreans who performed better than prosopagnosics. In the second experiment, participants rated the similarity of Caucasian faces that differed parametrically in either features or second-order relations (configuration). Prosopagnosics were less sensitive to configuration changes than both other groups. In addition, while all groups were more sensitive to changes in features than in configuration, this difference was smaller in Koreans. In the third experiment, participants had to learn exemplars of artificial objects, natural objects, and faces and recognize them among distractors of the same category. Here prosopagnosics performed worse than participants in the other two groups only when they were tested on face stimuli. In sum, Koreans and prosopagnosic participants differed from German controls in different ways in all tests. This suggests that German congenital prosopagnosics perceive Caucasian faces differently than do Korean participants. Importantly, our results suggest that different processing impairments underlie the ORE and CP.

Original languageEnglish
Article number759
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Volume8
Issue numberSEP
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Sep 29

Keywords

  • Asian
  • Caucasian
  • Congenital prosopagnosia
  • Face recognition
  • Other-race effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neurology
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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