The human visual system is remarkable in its ability to piece together complex information from the environment to create a rich and coherent perceptual experience. Within this system is the human face processing system, a network that provides the machinery that allows us to effortlessly learn and recognize countless faces throughout a lifetime. It also provides a tool for understanding the organization and development of high-level vision.
I will begin my talk by providing a brief overview of the face processing system. I will then discuss my primary area of research, which focuses on impaired face recognition in children and adults with developmental prosopagnosia (DP). DP is defined by severe face recognition difficulties due to the failure to develop the necessary mechanisms for processing faces. I will demonstrate how studying behavioural dissociations in DP allows us to make inferences about, 1) functional dissociations within the face processing system, 2) the normal and abnormal development of the system, and 3) the developmental trajectory of DP itself. I will also discuss a current research project that is being conducted with typically developing infants aimed at investigating the normal development of face recognition.