I recognize your face but I can't remember your name: a simple explanation?

A. M. Burton*, V. Bruce

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)


When shown the faces of familiar people, subjects are typically slower and less accurate at retrieving names than other semantic information. This finding, along with converging evidence from neuropsychological studies, has influenced most theoretical accounts of face recognition (e.g. Bruce & Young, 1986). These accounts propose that names are stored separately from semantic information, and that they may not be retrieved in the absence of other information. Here we show that it is possible to account for empirical findings without positing a separate store for names. The account is based on an implemented simulation with an interactive activation and competition architecture. We demonstrate that the fact that most names are unique leads naturally to the patterns of recall found in experimental studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-60
JournalThe British journal of psychology
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1992
Externally publishedYes


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