Knowledge without awareness: an autonomic index of facial recognition by prosopagnosics

Science. 1985 Jun 21;228(4706):1453-4. doi: 10.1126/science.4012303.


Prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize visually the faces of familiar persons who continue to be normally recognized through other sensory channels, is caused by bilateral cerebral lesions involving the visual system. Two patients with prosopagnosia generated frequent and large electrodermal skin conductance responses to faces of persons they had previously known but were now unable to recognize. They did not generate such responses to unfamiliar faces. The results suggest that an early step of the physiological process of recognition is still taking place in these patients, without their awareness but with an autonomic index.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agnosia / physiopathology*
  • Awareness*
  • Cognition*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Visual Perception*