Face memory impairments in patients with frontal lobe damage

Steven Z. Rapcsak, L. Nielsen, L. D. Littrell, E. L. Glisky, A. W. Kaszniak, J. F. Laguna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether damage to prefrontal cortex is associated with face memory impairment. Background: Neurophysiologic and functional imaging studies suggest that prefrontal cortex is a key component of a distributed neural network that mediates face recognition memory. However, there have been few attempts to examine the impact of frontal lobe damage on face memory performance. Methods: Patients with focal frontal lobe lesions and normal control subjects were administered two-alternative forced-choice and single-probe "yes/no" tests of recognition memory for novel faces. Retrograde memory was assessed by using famous faces as stimuli. Results: Compared with control subjects, patients with frontal lobe lesions showed evidence of marked anterograde and relatively mild retrograde face memory impairment. In addition, patients with right frontal lesions demonstrated increased susceptibility to false recognition, consistent with the breakdown of strategic memory retrieval, monitoring, and decision functions. Conclusions: Prefrontal cortex plays an important role in the executive control of face memory encoding and retrieval. Left and right prefrontal regions seem to make different contributions to recognition memory performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1168-1175
Number of pages8
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 9 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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