City Research Online

Probing short-term face memory in developmental prosopagnosia

Shah, P., Gaule, A., Gaigg, S. B. , Bird, G. & Cook, R. (2015). Probing short-term face memory in developmental prosopagnosia. Cortex, 64, pp. 115-122. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2014.10.006


It has recently been proposed that the face recognition deficits seen in neurodevelopmental disorders may reflect impaired short-term face memory. For example, introducing a brief delay between the presentation of target and test faces seems to disproportionately impair matching or recognition performance on individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. The present study sought to determine whether deficits of short-term face memory contribute to impaired face recognition seen in Developmental Prosopagnosia. To determine whether developmental prosopagnosics exhibit impaired short-term face memory, the present study used a six-alternative-forced-choice match-to-sample procedure. Memory demand was manipulated by employing a short or long delay between the presentation of the target face, and the six test faces. Crucially, the perceptual demands were identical in both conditions, thereby allowing the independent contribution of short-term face memory to be assessed. Prosopagnostics showed clear evidence of a category-specific impairment for face-matching in both conditions; they were both slower and less accurate than matched controls. Crucially however, the prosopagnosics showed no evidence of disproportionate face recognition impairment in the long-interval condition. While individuals with developmental prosopagnosia may have problems with the perceptual encoding of faces, it appears that their representations are stable over short durations. These results suggest that the face recognition difficulties seen in developmental prosopagnosia and autism may be qualitatively different, attributable to deficits of perceptual encoding and perceptual maintenance, respectively.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Cortex. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Cortex, Volume 64, March 2015, Pages 115–122,
Publisher Keywords: Face perception; Body perception; Developmental prosopagnosia; Short-term face memory; Neurodevelopmental disorders
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Probing short term face memory Shah et al Cortex.pdf]
PDF - Accepted Version
Download (369kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login