Face matching impairment in developmental prosopagnosia

David White*, Davide Rivolta, A. Mike Burton, Shahd Al-Janabi, Romina Palermo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


Developmental prosopagnosia (DP) is commonly referred to as ‘face blindness’, a term that implies a perceptual basis to the condition. However, DP presents as a deficit in face recognition and is diagnosed using memory-based tasks. Here, we test face identification ability in six people with DP, who are severely impaired on face memory tasks, using tasks that do not rely on memory. First, we compared DP to control participants on a standardized test of unfamiliar face matching using facial images taken on the same day and under standardized studio conditions (Glasgow Face Matching Test; GFMT). Scores for DP participants did not differ from normative accuracy scores on the GFMT. Second, we tested face matching performance on a test created using images that were sourced from the Internet and so varied substantially due to changes in viewing conditions and in a person’s appearance (Local Heroes Test; LHT). DP participants showed significantly poorer matching accuracy on the LHT than control participants, for both unfamiliar and familiar face matching. Interestingly, this deficit is specific to ‘match’ trials, suggesting that people with DP may have particular difficulty in matching images of the same person that contain natural day-to-day variations in appearance. We discuss these results in the broader context of individual differences in face matching ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-297
Number of pages11
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


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