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On the Relations Between Face, Word and Object Recognition


Project title

On the Relations Between Face, Word and Object Recognition: A New and Developmental Perspective

Anders Aaby

Project manager

Christian Gerlach

Project description

It is well-known that a significant proportion of the population suffers from developmental dyslexia. It is less well-known that a significant proportion of the population experiences a similar developmental disorder that affects the ability to recognize faces; face blindness (congenital / developmental prosopagnosia). Both disturbances cause serious disability. Dyslexia impedes a daily life where more and more emphasis is placed on the written word, while face blindness makes it difficult to engage in social contexts. Some people with face blindness thus live a life withdrawn from social interaction even though they are otherwise well-functioning. Where we today have some knowledge about the cognitive and neural basis for dyslexia, we know much less about face blindness and nothing about whether these disorders are related.

We will investigate the cognitive and neural basis of face blindness as well as similarities and differences between face blindness and dyslexia. Traditionally, it has been suggested that recognition of faces and words draws on separate cognitive systems and areas in the brain. However, we are examining the possibility that the systems that mediate face and word recognition involve the same operations/brain areas, but that they partially will differ from each other over time as a result of learning.

The project is based on a combination of experimental psychology paradigms, neuropsychology and functional imaging (fMRI).

If our working hypothesis finds support it has the potential to change the way we understand the cognitive and neural processes underlying face, word and object recognition.

Start date and expected end date

01.10.2015 - 18.06.2020

The project is carried out under

BRIDGE, Brain Research - Inter-Disciplinary Guided Excellence

Related links


  • The Radiological Repartment, Odense University Hospital;
  • Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen;
  • Department of Psychology, University of Oslo, Norway;
  • Department of Scandinavian Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen


The Danish Research Council for Independent Research in Humanities (grant no. DFF – 4001-00115).


Face recognition, word recognition, reading, developmental prosopagnosia, face blindness, developmental dyslexia, visual processing, experimental psychology, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology

Last Updated 17.01.2022