Face ethnicity and measurement reliability affect face recognition performance in developmental prosopagnosia

evidence from the Cambridge face memory test-Australian

Elinor McKone*, Ashleigh Hall, Madeleine Pidcock, Romina Palermo, Ross B. Wilkinson, Davide Rivolta, Galit Yovel, Joshua M. Davis, Kirsty B. O'Connor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

66 Citations (Scopus)


The Cambridge Face Memory Test (CFMT, Duchaine & Nakayama, 2006) provides a validated format for testing novel face learning and has been a crucial instrument in the diagnosis of developmental prosopagnosia. Yet, some individuals who report everyday face recognition symptoms consistent with prosopagnosia, and are impaired on famous face tasks, perform normally on the CFMT. Possible reasons include measurement error, CFMT assessment of memory only at short delays, and a face set whose ethnicity is matched to only some Caucasian groups. We develop the "CFMT-Australian" (CFMT-Aus), which complements the CFMT-original by using ethnicity better matched to a different European subpopulation. Results confirm reliability (.88) and validity (convergent, divergent using cars, inversion effects). We show that face ethnicity within a race has subtle but clear effects on face processing even in normal participants (includes cross-over interaction for face ethnicity by perceiver country of origin in distinctiveness ratings). We show that CFMT-Aus clarifies diagnosis of prosopagnosia in 6 previously ambiguous cases. In 3 cases, this appears due to the better ethnic match to prosopagnosics. We also show that face memory at short (,3-min), 20-min, and 24-hr delays taps overlapping processes in normal participants. There is some suggestion that aform of prosopagnosia may exist that is long delay only and/or reflects failure to benefit from face repetition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-146
Number of pages38
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • face recognition
  • developmental prosopagnosi
  • ethnicity
  • memory delay
  • measurement error

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