The Cambridge Face Memory Test: results for neurologically intact individuals and an investigation of its validity using inverted face stimuli and prosopagnosic participants

Neuropsychologia. 2006;44(4):576-85. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2005.07.001. Epub 2005 Sep 19.


The two standardized tests of face recognition that are widely used suffer from serious shortcomings [Duchaine, B. & Weidenfeld, A. (2003). An evaluation of two commonly used tests of unfamiliar face recognition. Neuropsychologia, 41, 713-720; Duchaine, B. & Nakayama, K. (2004). Developmental prosopagnosia and the Benton Facial Recognition Test. Neurology, 62, 1219-1220]. Images in the Warrington Recognition Memory for Faces test include substantial non-facial information, and the simultaneous presentation of faces in the Benton Facial Recognition Test allows feature matching. Here, we present results from a new test, the Cambridge Face Memory Test, which builds on the strengths of the previous tests. In the test, participants are introduced to six target faces, and then they are tested with forced choice items consisting of three faces, one of which is a target. For each target face, three test items contain views identical to those studied in the introduction, five present novel views, and four present novel views with noise. There are a total of 72 items, and 50 controls averaged 58. To determine whether the test requires the special mechanisms used to recognize upright faces, we conducted two experiments. We predicted that controls would perform much more poorly when the face images are inverted, and as predicted, inverted performance was much worse with a mean of 42. Next we assessed whether eight prosopagnosics would perform poorly on the upright version. The prosopagnosic mean was 37, and six prosopagnosics scored outside the normal range. In contrast, the Warrington test and the Benton test failed to classify a majority of the prosopagnosics as impaired. These results indicate that the new test effectively assesses face recognition across a wide range of abilities.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attention
  • Discrimination Learning
  • Face
  • Female
  • Field Dependence-Independence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Orientation*
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Perceptual Masking
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Prosopagnosia / diagnosis*
  • Prosopagnosia / psychology
  • Psychometrics
  • Reference Values