Sunday, July 29, 2007

Abnormal FMRI adaptation to unfamiliar faces in a case of developmental prosopamnesia

Williams MA, Berberovic N, Mattingley JB
Curr Biol. 2007 Jul 17;17(14):1259-64

In rare cases, damage to the temporal lobe causes a selective impairment in the ability to learn new faces, a condition known as prosopamnesia [1]. Here we present the case of an individual with prosopamnesia in the absence of any acquired structural lesion. "C" shows intact processing of simple and complex nonface objects, but her ability to learn new faces is severely impaired. We used a neural marker of perceptual learning known as repetition suppression to examine functioning within C's fusiform face area (FFA), a region of cortex involved in face perception [2]. For comparison, we examined repetition suppression in the scene-selective parahippocampal place area (PPA) [3]. As expected, normal controls showed significant region-specific attenuation of neural activity across repetitions of each stimulus class. C also showed normal attenuation within the PPA to familiar and unfamiliar scenes, and within the FFA to familiar faces. Critically, however, she failed to show any adaptive change within the FFA for repeated unfamiliar faces, despite a face-specific blood-oxygen-dependent response (BOLD) response in her FFA during viewing of face stimuli. Our findings suggest that in developmental prosopamnesia, the FFA cannot maintain stable representations of new faces for subsequent recall or recognition.

PMID: 17614283


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