Can face recognition really be dissociated from object recognition?
journal contributionposted on 01.07.1999, 00:00 by I Gauthier, M Behrmann, M J Tarr
We argue that the current literature on prosopagnosia fails to demonstrate unequivocal evidence for a disproportionate impairment for faces as compared to nonface objects. Two prosopagnosic subjects were tested for the discrimination of objects from several categories (face as well as nonface) at different levels of categorization (basic, subordinate, and exemplar levels). Several dependent measures were obtained including accuracy, signal detection measures, and response times. The results from Experiments 1 to 4 demonstrate that, in simultaneous-matching tasks, response times may reveal impairments with nonface objects in subjects whose error rates only indicate a face deficit. The results from Experiments 5 and 6 show that, given limited stimulus presentation times for face and nonface objects, the same subjects ma demonstrate a deficit for both stimulus categories in sensitivity. In Experiments 7, 8 and 9, a match-to-sample task that places greater demands on memory led to comparable recognition sensitivity with both face and nonface objects. Regardless of object category, the prosopagnosic subjects were more affected by manipulations of the level of categorization than normal controls. This result raises questions regarding neuropsychological evidence for the modularity of face recognition, as well as its theoretical and methodological foundations.