Prosopagnosia: a case study involving problems in processing configural information

Brain Cogn. 2001 Jun-Jul;46(1-2):255-9. doi: 10.1006/brcg.2000.1271.


An ongoing issue in face recognition research is whether holistic face processing relies on the segregation of local discrete facial parts. Evidence in favor of the holistic-plus-parts view stems from a recent study reported by Arguin and Saumier (1999), who show that the priming effects of individual facial parts (i.e., eyes, nose, mouth, orcontour) depends on the presence of configural information and that the magnitude of priming augments as the number of facial parts serving as primes increase. The present study demonstrates that these global processing effects are absent in a prosopagnosic patient (A.R.), who shows no priming from single face parts and a linear increase in the magnitude of priming as a function of the number of parts presented. These findings indicate that A.R. is incapable of integrating individual facial parts into a global facial configuration ant that this is likely at the root of her prosopagnosia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Encephalitis, Viral / complications
  • Facial Expression*
  • Female
  • Form Perception / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Perceptual Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Perceptual Disorders / etiology
  • Perceptual Disorders / physiopathology
  • Prosopagnosia / diagnosis*
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Visual Perception / physiology