UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Scanpaths of Subjects with Developmental Prosopagnosia during a Face Memory Task Lee, Dong-Ho; Corrow, Sherryse L.; Pancaroglu, Raika; Barton, Jason J. S.


The scanpaths of healthy subjects show biases towards the upper face, the eyes and the center of the face, which suggests that their fixations are guided by a feature hierarchy towards the regions most informative for face identification. However, subjects with developmental prosopagnosia have a lifelong impairment in face processing. Whether this is reflected in the loss of normal face-scanning strategies is not known. The goal of this study was to determine if subjects with developmental prosopagnosia showed anomalous scanning biases as they processed the identity of faces. We recorded the fixations of 10 subjects with developmental prosopagnosia as they performed a face memorization and recognition task, for comparison with 8 subjects with acquired prosopagnosia (four with anterior temporal lesions and four with occipitotemporal lesions) and 20 control subjects. The scanning of healthy subjects confirmed a bias to fixate the upper over the lower face, the eyes over the mouth, and the central over the peripheral face. Subjects with acquired prosopagnosia from occipitotemporal lesions had more dispersed fixations and a trend to fixate less informative facial regions. Subjects with developmental prosopagnosia did not differ from the controls. At a single-subject level, some developmental subjects performed abnormally, but none consistently across all metrics. Scanning distributions were not related to scores on perceptual or memory tests for faces. We conclude that despite lifelong difficulty with faces, subjects with developmental prosopagnosia still have an internal facial schema that guides their scanning behavior.

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