Neuropsychology Review

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 99-110

First online:

Is the Right Anterior Temporal Variant of Prosopagnosia a Form of ‘Associative Prosopagnosia’ or a Form of ‘Multimodal Person Recognition Disorder’?

  • Guido GainottiAffiliated withCenter for Neuropsychological Research and Department of Neurosciences, Università Cattolica of RomeDepartment of Clinical and Behavioral Neurology, IRCCS Fondazione Santa LuciaCenter for Neuropsychological Research, Institute of Neurology, Policlinico Gemelli, Catholic University of Rome Email author 

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The construct of associative prosopagnosia is strongly debated for two main reasons. The first is that, according to some authors, even patients with putative forms of associative visual agnosia necessarily present perceptual defects, that are the cause of their recognition impairment. The second is that in patients with right anterior temporal lobe (ATL) lesions (and sparing of the occipital and fusiform face areas), who can present a defect of familiar people recognition, with normal results on tests of face perception, the disorder is often multimodal, affecting voices (and to a lesser extent names) in addition to faces. The present review was prompted by the claim, recently advanced by some authors, that face recognition disorders observed in patients with right ATL lesions should be considered as an associative or amnestic form of prosopagnosia, because in them both face perception and retrieval of personal semantic knowledge from name are spared. In order to check this claim, we surveyed all the cases of patients who satisfied the criteria of associative prosopagnosia reported in the literature, to see if their defect was circumscribed to the visual modality or also affected other channels of people recognition. The review showed that in most patients the study had been limited to the visual modality, but that, when the other modalities of people recognition had been taken into account, the defect was often multimodal, affecting voice (and to a lesser extent name) in addition to face.


Associative prosopagnosia Multimodal person recognition disorder Right anterior temporal lesions Face familiarity feelings Familiar people identification