Understanding covert recognition

A. Mike Burton*, Andrew W. Young, Vicki Bruce, Robert A. Johnston, Andrew W. Ellis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


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 overtly 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-166
Number of pages38
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 1991
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding covert recognition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this