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Do congenital prosopagnosia and the other-race effect affect the same face recognition mechanisms?

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Esins,  J
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Schultz,  J
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bülthoff,  I
Department Human Perception, Cognition and Action, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Esins, J., Schultz, J., Wallraven, C., & Bülthoff, I. (2014). Do congenital prosopagnosia and the other-race effect affect the same face recognition mechanisms? Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8: 759, pp. 1-14. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.00759.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0027-7FD7-2
Abstract
Congenital prosopagnosia, an innate impairment in recognizing faces, as well as the other-race effect, a disadvantage in recognizing faces of foreign races, both affect face recognition abilities. Are the same face processing mechanisms affected in both situations? To investigate this question, we tested three groups of 21 participants: German congenital prosopagnosics, South Korean participants and German controls in three different tasks involving faces and objects. First we tested all participants on the Cambridge Face Memory Test in which they had to recognize Caucasian target faces in a 3-alternative-forced-choice task. German controls performed better than Koreans who performed better than prosopagnosics. In the second experiment, participants rated the similarity of Caucasian faces that differed parametrically in either features or second-order relations (configuration). Prosopagnosics were less sensitive to configuration changes than both other groups. In addition, while all groups were more sensitive to changes in features than in configuration, this difference was smaller in Koreans. In the third experiment, participants had to learn exemplars of artificial objects, natural objects, and faces and recognize them among distractors of the same category. Here prosopagnosics performed worse than participants in the other two groups only when they were tested on face stimuli. In sum, Koreans and prosopagnosic participants differed from German controls in different ways in all tests. This suggests that German congenital prosopagnosics perceive Caucasian faces differently than do Korean participants. Importantly, our results suggest that different processing impairments underlie the other-race effect and congenital prosopagnosia.