The neuropsychology of familiar person recognition from face and voice

Guido Gainotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Prosopagnosia has been considered for a long period of time as the most important and almost exclusive disorder in the recognition of familiar people. In recent years, however, this conviction has been undermined by the description of patients showing a concomitant defect in the recognition of familiar faces and voices as a consequence of lesions encroaching upon the right anterior temporal lobe (ATL). These new data have obliged researchers to reconsider on one hand the construct of 'associative prosopagnosia' and on the other hand current models of people recognition. A systematic review of the patterns of familiar people recognition disorders observed in patients with right and left ATL lesions has shown that in patients with right ATL lesions face familiarity feelings and the retrieval of person-specific semantic information from faces are selectively affected, whereas in patients with left ATL lesions the defect selectively concerns famous people naming. Furthermore, some patients with right ATL lesions and intact face familiarity feelings show a defect in the retrieval of person-specific semantic knowledge greater from face than from name. These data are at variance with current models assuming: (a) that familiarity feelings are generated at the level of person identity nodes (PINs) where information processed by various sensory modalities converge, and (b) that PINs provide a modality-free gateway to a single semantic system, where information about people is stored in an amodal format. They suggest, on the contrary: (a) that familiarity feelings are generated at the level of modality-specific recognition units; (b) that face and voice recognition units are represented more in the right than in the left ATLs; (c) that in the right ATL are mainly stored person-specific information based on a convergence of perceptual information, whereas in the left ATLs are represented verbally-mediated person-specific information. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)298-309
Number of pages12
JournalPsychologica Belgica
Volume54
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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