More than just a problem with faces

altered body perception in a group of congenital prosopagnosics

Davide Rivolta*, Rebecca P. Lawson, Romina Palermo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


It has been estimated that one out of 40 people in the general population suffer from congenital prosopagnosia (CP), a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by difficulty identifying people by their faces. CP involves impairment in recognizing faces, although the perception of non-face stimuli may also be impaired. Given that social interaction depends not only on face processing, but also on the processing of bodies, it is of theoretical importance to ascertain whether CP is also characterized by body perception impairments. Here, we tested 11 CPs and 11 matched control participants on the Body Identity Recognition Task (BIRT), a forced-choice match-to-sample task, using stimuli that require processing of body-specific, not clothing-specific, features. Results indicated that the group of CPs were as accurate as controls on the BIRT, which is in line with the lack of body perception complaints by CPs. However, the CPs were slower than controls, and when accuracy and response times were combined into inverse efficiency scores (IESs), the group of CPs were impaired, suggesting that the CPs could be using more effortful cognitive mechanisms to be as accurate as controls. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that CP may not generally be limited to face processing difficulties, but may also extend to body perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-286
Number of pages11
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • developmental prosopagnosia
  • face processing
  • bodies
  • object processing

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