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Implicit face perception in a patient with visual agnosia? Evidence from behavioural and eye-tracking analyses.
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Publication types: Case Reports ; Comparative Study ; Journal ArticlePublication Status: ppublish
This paper investigates face perception in a visual agnosic and prosopagnosic patient (SB). Despite very extensive lesions of visual areas, SB remains capable of some visual processing [Brain 125 (2002) 58]. However, in everyday situations SB does not exhibit signs of specific face recognition. To investigate how SB may process faces, we tested two hypotheses. According to the 'spared module hypothesis,' SBs abilities come from spared modules of implicit face processing. According to the 'general strategy hypothesis,' SB may have developed some deliberate compensatory strategies. A two-session experimental design was constructed. In both sessions, face and non-face pictures were shown to participants. In Session 1 (implicit condition), participants had to decide whether each picture was a vegetable. In Session 2 (explicit condition), participants had to decide whether each picture was a face. Verbal reports showed that SB was not aware of faces in Session 1. However, behavioural results showed that (1). SB could process faces; (2). even when SB was not aware of faces, he processed them differently than non-faces; (3). when knowing the presence of faces, he did not process faces better. In addition, eye-tracking data suggested that SB did not change the nature of his processing from Sessions 1 to 2. Pupil diameters showed that fixated facial features were processed similarly as in control participants. Together, these results are not compatible with a general compensatory strategy hypothesis and suggest sparing of an implicit face processing module in SB.
Adult, Agnosia/etiology, Agnosia/psychology, Case-Control Studies, Eye Movements, Face, Humans, Male, Meningoencephalitis/complications, Neuropsychological Tests, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Prosopagnosia/etiology, Prosopagnosia/psychology
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