Understanding covert recognition.

Abstract

An implementation of Bruce and Young's (1986) functional model of face recognition is used to examine patterns of covert face recognition previously reported in a prosopagnosic patient, PH. Although PH is unable to recognize overly the faces of people known to him, he shows normal patterns of face processing when tested indirectly. A simple manipulation of one set of connections in the implemented model induces behaviour consistent with patterns of results from PH obtained in semantic priming and interference tasks. We compare this account with previous explanations of covert recognition and demonstrate that the implemented model provides the most natural and parsimonious account available. Two further patients are discussed who show deficits in person perception. The first (MS) is prosopagnosic but shows no covert recognition. The second (ME) is not prosopagnosic, but cannot access semantic information relating to familiar people. The model provides an account of recognition impairments which is sufficiently general also to be useful in describing these patients.

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