Skip to main content
main-content
Top

About this book

Focusing on disorders, Bate unravels the mysteries and intricacies of facial processing from a new perspective, covering cognitive, developmental and clinical issues. Written in an engaging style and encompassing a wealth of detail, this is a must-read for both students and researchers interested in facial recognition.

Table of Contents

The Structure and Function of the Healthy Adult Face-Processing System

Frontmatter

1. The Cognitive Psychology of Face Recognition

Abstract
The most reliable source of information that allows us to identify others comes from the internal facial features. Indeed, although the human face has evolved over thousands of years such that the basic shape and configuration of features is common to all faces (i.e., two eyes above a nose, which is above a mouth), there are still fine-grained differences between faces that allow us to identify someone we know. Fundamentally, we are able to perform this task because the presentation of a person’s facial features is relatively permanent and changes little over time, making the face a reliable source of information about a person’s identity.
Sarah Bate

2. The Cognitive Neuroscience of Face Processing

Abstract
In the last chapter, behavioural investigations that have informed our understanding of the workings of the face-processing system were discussed. Although this evidence has been invaluable in developing our knowledge about how we recognize faces, more recent studies have used a range of neuroscientific techniques to further our understanding about the neural systems that underpin these effects. In the current chapter, each of these methodologies is discussed in turn, together with key findings that are thought to explain how the neurological face-processing system operates. The chapter culminates with the description of a recent neurological model of face processing, which pulls together the evidence reported in neuroscientific investigations.
Sarah Bate

3. The Social Value of the Face

Abstract
In the previous chapter, the neurological model of face processing proposed by Gobbini and Haxby (2007) was discussed. Importantly, in addition to accounting for face identification, this model encompasses mechanisms that are responsible for processing social aspects of the face, including emotional expression and eye gaze direction. Clearly these are important sources of social information that guide our interactions with other people. In this chapter, the literature surrounding these aspects of face perception is reviewed, culminating in a discussion about how this information might be integrated with our perceptions of facial attractiveness to provide us with an ongoing complex assessment of the intentions and wishes of those people around us.
Sarah Bate

4. Focus Chapter: Are Faces Special?

Abstract
It is clear from the first three chapters of this book that faces are exceptionally important social stimuli that help us to function in our everyday lives. As such, it is not surprising that both behavioural and neuroimaging studies have revealed specific processing strategies and neural regions that are implicated in face recognition. Indeed, in Chapter 1 it was noted that we use an optimal configural processing strategy to recognize faces. Further, in Chapter 2, Gobbini and Haxby’s (2007) neurological model of face processing was described. Although this model hypothesizes that all aspects of faces are processed within a distributed and overlapping neural network, it also posits that face identification occurs within the ‘fusiform face area’ (FFA), an area of cortex that seems to be particularly activated in response to faces. Thus, both behavioural and neuroimaging evidence suggests that humans might have specific cognitive and neural mechanisms that are reserved for the processing of facial stimuli.
Sarah Bate

Acquired and Neuropsychiatric Disorders of Face Processing

Frontmatter

5. Acquired Prosopagnosia

Abstract
Prosopagnosia is a cognitive disorder characterized by a severe deficit in face recognition, which cannot be attributed to lower-level visual problems, higherlevel semantic impairments or cognitive alterations such as mental confusion or amnesia. Prosopagnosics can normally recognize that a particular visual stimulus is a face, but they cannot discriminate between different faces, and hence cannot recognize the faces of familiar people. This impairment is severe, and includes not only the faces of close friends and acquaintances, but also family members, siblings, spouses and, in some cases, even their own face. However, prosopagnosics can often identify familiar people using alternative cues to recognition, such as hairstyle, clothing, voice or gait. Importantly, this indicates that prosopagnosia is essentially a disorder of visual perception, and general semantic knowledge about familiar people remains intact and accessible from other modalities.
Sarah Bate

6. Delusional Misidentification Syndrome

Abstract
Delusional misidentification syndrome (DMS) refers to a group of conditions in which a person consistently misidentifies people, places, objects or events. Given this book is only concerned with disorders of person recognition, only delusions affecting this entity will be discussed. According to Ellis, Whitley and Luauté (1994), there are four main delusional misidentification disorders that affect person recognition: Capgras delusion, Fregoli syndrome, intermetamorphosis and subjective doubles. Christodoulou (1978) suggested that these four disorders can be further divided into two broad subtypes: those that involve hypo- or under-identification of a well-known person (i.e., Capgras syndrome), and those that involve hyper- or over-identification of a person not known well to the patient (i.e., Fregoli syndrome, intermetamorphosis and subjective doubles). This chapter begins with an introduction to each of these disorders, followed by discussion of the aetiological and functional basis of DMS.
Sarah Bate

7. Face-Processing Deficits in Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Abstract
Individuals with major psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia and mood disorders commonly suffer from deficits in social perception, and particularly display abnormal processing of facial expressions of emotion. Importantly, emotional expressions signal our own affective state and allow us to interpret those of others, and many researchers believe that these processes influence and regulate our own affective feelings and mood. Hence, it is unsurprising that some theories suggest that impaired perception of facial expression might underpin the socio-communicative problems commonly observed in individuals with major psychiatric illnesses. In the current chapter, the nature of face-processing impairments in three major neuropsychiatric disorders is discussed. Before you begin this chapter, you may find it useful to read Chapter 3, where the social aspects of face perception in unimpaired participants are described.
Sarah Bate

8. Focus Chapter: What are the Theoretical Implications of Acquired and Neuropsychiatric Disorders of Face Processing?

Abstract
In this section of the book, acquired and neuropsychiatric disorders of face processing have been discussed. However, in addition to these disorders being of clinical significance, they have also greatly informed our knowledge about the structure and functioning of the normal face-processing system. Indeed, it is particularly clear from Chapters 5 and 6 that both prosopagnosia and the Capgras delusion have informed the development of functional models of face processing.
Sarah Bate

Developmental Disorders of Face Processing

Frontmatter

9. The Development of Face Processing

Abstract
Given that faces provide us with a multitude of information that is critical for successful social interaction, the development of the face-processing system has received much attention in the literature. Indeed, researchers have examined both the development of face-processing skills in typically developing children, and in children with developmental disorders that present with impairments in face recognition. In this section of the book, research that has investigated face processing both in unimpaired and impaired children is discussed.
Sarah Bate

10. Developmental Prosopagnosia

Abstract
Chapter 5 discussed acquired prosopagnosia (AP), a rare disorder characterized by a deficit in face recognition that occurs after neurological damage. However, other people simply fail to develop normal face-processing abilities. This form of the disorder had been termed ‘developmental prosopagnosia’ (DP). Like those with AP, these individuals have a selective impairment in face recognition despite intact lower-level visual and intellectual abilities, but have never suffered any neurological damage (Jones and Tranel, 2001).
Sarah Bate

11. Face-Processing Deficits in Socio-Developmental Disorders

Abstract
In this chapter, the types of face-processing impairment that present in three socio-developmental disorders are discussed: autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), Williams syndrome and Turner’s syndrome. As you read the chapter, take note of the general neurocognitive presentation of each disorder, and how underlying behavioural and neural abnormalities might contribute to the face-processing deficits that occur in the three conditions.
Sarah Bate

12. Focus Chapter: What are the Theoretical Implications of Developmental Disorders of Face Processing?

Abstract
The models of face processing that were discussed in Part I of this book describe the functional and neural architecture of the healthy adult face-processing system. Importantly, the development of these models has been informed by case studies of neurological patients who present with various patterns of deficits in face processing. The most convincing evidence that has informed these models comes from instances of ‘double dissociations’, or pairs of patients that present with converse patterns of impairment, indicating independent streams for certain processes. Indeed, in Chapter 8, instances of double dissociations between patients with either identity or expression processing impairments were discussed, in addition to the proposed double dissociation between acquired prosopagnosia and the Capgras delusion. Such double dissociations illustrate the ‘lesion’ approach of cognitive neuropsychology, and how the logic of this framework has been used to identify different stages in processing that can be selectively disrupted.
Sarah Bate

The Impact, Assessment and Treatment of Face-Processing Deficits

Frontmatter

13. Living in a World without Faces

Abstract
In this book, a range of acquired, neuropsychiatric and developmental disorders of face processing have been considered. Although the aetiology, prevalence and co-morbidity of face-processing deficits greatly vary between these conditions, it is clear that difficulties in processing faces can have a large impact on everyday social and occupational functioning. In some disorders (e.g., acquired or developmental prosopagnosia), these difficulties largely revolve around the inability to recognize familiar people from their faces. In other conditions (e.g., schizophrenia or depression), it is mainly the ability to accurately interpret different emotional expressions that is affected.
Sarah Bate

14. The Assessment of Face-Processing Deficits

Abstract
This book has illustrated how face-processing impairments can present in many acquired, neuropsychiatric and developmental disorders. From both a practical and theoretical viewpoint, it is important to consider how these different types of face-processing difficulty might be assessed. Sometimes, a person who is experiencing face-processing impairments might be referred to a clinical or cognitive neuropsychologist for formal assessment. Other individuals might not seek formal intervention for their difficulties, but nevertheless volunteer to participate in a particular research project. In either case, an initial assessment of that individual’s face processing and other cognitive abilities should be performed. This chapter discusses the neuropsychological and cognitive tests that might be administered in such an assessment, alongside other considerations that the person administering the tests might need to take into account.
Sarah Bate

15. Treatment of Face-Processing Deficits

Abstract
Despite increasing awareness that many people suffer from face-processing deficits, there have been few attempts to improve face-processing skills in these individuals. Indeed, there is no formal programme of treatment currently offered by clinical services, although some investigators have attempted to improve face processing in small numbers of research participants. This chapter describes the attempts that have been made so far, and highlights recent developments in the literature and potential directions for future research.
Sarah Bate

16. Focus Chapter: Integration of Theory and Practice

Abstract
It is clear from the discussions throughout this book that face-processing impairments present in a range of acquired, neuropsychiatric and developmental disorders, and are perhaps much more common than originally thought. In recent decades, much research has examined the nature of face-processing impairments in these disorders, and findings have been used to further our theoretical understanding of the human face-processing system.
Sarah Bate
Additional information