A neuropsychological approach to dissect face perception and perceptual expertise
- Start date: 01 October 2012
- End date: 30 September 2015
Recognising faces is at the heart of human social interactions. By adulthood, people are very good at extracting identity, sex, race, emotions, and social signals from faces. Therefore, impairments to this ability can drastically reduce their quality of life.
The aim of this project is to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying people’s ability to process faces and how these mechanisms adapt with experience. The approach is to test whether individuals with prosopagnosia can acquire expertise of novel non-face objects through training. These individuals had head trauma during adulthood that lead to damage in specific brain regions. These regions are thought to process only faces and no other object categories. However, these regions may be more generally involved in processing object categories for which people have expertise (eg, bird experts). In addition to neurological case studies, volunteers will also go through the training. Their brain will be scanned using magnetic resonance imaging to determine how the putative face-specific regions change over the course of training. Overall, the results will have an impact on clinical populations which can result in face recognition deficits, such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke patients, and developmental disorders that affect social interactions (eg, Autism).