Neuropsychologia 2002 ;40(4):446-56
Department of Psychology, Finch University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical School, 3333 Green Bay Road, North Chicago, IL 60064, USA.
We examined the performance of 21 patients with unilateral temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and hippocampal damage (10 lefts, and 11 rights) and 10 age-matched controls on the recognition and identification (name and occupation) of well-known faces. Famous face stimuli were selected from four time periods; 1970s, 1980s, 1990-1994, and 1995-1996. Differential patterns of performance were observed for the left and right TLE group across distinct face processing components. The left TLE group showed a selective impairment in naming famous faces while they performed similar to the controls in face recognition and semantic identification (i.e. occupation). In contrast, the right TLE group was impaired across all components of face memory; face recognition, semantic identification, and face naming. Face naming impairment in the left TLE group was characterized by a temporal gradient with better naming performance for famous faces from more distant time periods. Findings are discussed in terms of the role of the temporal lobe system for the acquisition, retention, and retrieval of face semantic networks, and the differential effects of lateralized temporal lobe lesions in this process.