Progress in perceptual research: the case of prosopagnosia

F1000Res. 2019 May 31:8:F1000 Faculty Rev-765. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.18492.1. eCollection 2019.


Prosopagnosia is an impairment in the ability to recognize faces and can be acquired after a brain lesion or occur as a developmental variant. Studies of prosopagnosia make important contributions to our understanding of face processing and object recognition in the human visual system. We review four areas of advances in the study of this condition in recent years. First are issues surrounding the diagnosis of prosopagnosia, including the development and evaluation of newer tests and proposals for diagnostic criteria, especially for the developmental variant. Second are studies of the structural basis of prosopagnosia, including the application of more advanced neuroimaging techniques in studies of the developmental variant. Third are issues concerning the face specificity of the defect in prosopagnosia, namely whether other object processing is affected to some degree and in particular the status of visual word processing in light of recent predictions from the "many-to-many hypothesis". Finally, there have been recent rehabilitative trials of perceptual learning applied to larger groups of prosopagnosic subjects that show that face impairments are not immutable in this condition.

Keywords: diagnosis; face recognition; neuroimaging; object recognition; rehabilitation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Facial Recognition
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Neuroimaging*
  • Prosopagnosia / diagnostic imaging*
  • Prosopagnosia / therapy*

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (RGPIN 319129) and Canada Research Chairs (950-228984).