Selective sparing of face learning in a global amnesic patient

G. A. Carlesimo, L. Fadda, P. Turriziani, F. Tomaiuolo, C. Caltagirone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective - To test the hypothesis that visual memory for faces can be dissociated from visual memory for topographical material. Method - A patient who developed a global amnesic syndrome after acute carbon monoxide poisoning is described. A neuroradiological examination documented severe bilateral atrophy of the hippocampi. Results - Despite a severe anterograde memory disorder involving verbal information, abstract figures, concrete objects, topographical scenes, and spatial information, the patient was still able to learn previously unknown human faces at a normal (and, in some cases, at a higher) rate. Conclusions - Together with previous neuropsychological evidence documenting selective sparing of topographical learning in otherwise amnesic patients, this case is indicative of the fact that the neural circuits involved in face recognition are distinct from those involved in the recognition of other visuoperceptual material (for example, topographical scenes).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-346
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2001


  • Amnesia
  • Face learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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