Covert face recognition in neurologically intact participants

Donald J. Morrison*, Vicki Bruce, A. Mike Burton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Prosopagnosic patients may maintain some ability to recognize familiar faces, although they remain unaware of this ability. This phenomenon - called covert face recognition - was investigated in neurologically intact participants, using priming techniques. Participants were quicker to indicate that a target-name was familiar when the preceding prime-face belonged to the same person compared with an unrelated familiar person. This was observed both when prime-faces could be recognized overtly and when they were presented too briefly to be recognized overtly (Exps. 1 and 2). Thus, covert face recognition was observed in neurologically intact participants. In Exp. 3, participants were quicker to recognize a familiar face when that person's face had been seen previously, but only when it had been recognized overtly on the first encounter. These results are interpreted within the framework of an interactive activation model of face recognition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-94
Number of pages12
JournalPsychological Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2000
Externally publishedYes


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