Face memory and face perception in autism

Mirta Stantić*, Eri Ichijo, Caroline Catmur, Geoffrey Bird

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


It has been argued that autistic individuals have difficulties with face memory but typical face perception. However, only one previous study has examined both face memory and face perception in the same individuals, and this study was conducted with a small group of autistic children. Here, face recognition was examined with a group of autistic adults using two face perception tasks (including one designed to avoid a neurotypical bias) and a standard test of face memory. Self-reported face recognition difficulties in everyday life were also recorded. The group of adults with autism scored lower than a matched neurotypical control group on all face tasks and reported more problems with face recognition in everyday life. On the whole, results suggest difficulties with both face perception and face memory in autistic adults, although it should be noted that a wide range of scores were recorded from the autistic individuals, with some scoring in the neurotypical range. Lay abstract: It is well known that some people with autism have difficulties recognizing faces. It is generally thought that this is not because autistic individuals cannot perceive faces, but because autistic individuals have greater problems than people without autism in remembering faces. Here, we worked with a group of autistic adults and a group of non-autistic adults to test their ability to perceive and remember faces. We also asked each person to report any difficulties that they have with recognizing faces in everyday life. We find that, as a group, people with autism have difficulties with both remembering and perceiving faces, and report more problems recognizing faces in everyday life. However, it is worth noting that we observed a wide range of scores in the group of people with autism, with some autistic participants scoring as well as the group of people without autism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-280
Number of pages5
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: MS is supported by an ESRC DTP studentship. a Wilfrid Knapp Science Scholarship and a Frankopan Fund fellowship. GB is supported by the Baily Thomas Charitable Trust.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • CFMT
  • face memory
  • face perception
  • GFMT
  • OFMT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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