Patients with anterior temporal lobe (ATL) resection due to mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) have difficulties at identifying familiar faces and explicitly remembering newly learned faces but their ability to individuate unfamiliar faces remains largely unknown. Moreover, the extent to which their difficulties with familiar face identity recognition and learning is truly due to the ATL resection remains unknown. Here, we report a study of 24 MTLE patients and matched healthy controls tested with an extensive set of seven face and visual object recognition tasks (including three tasks evaluating unfamiliar face individuation) before and about 6 months after unilateral (nine left, 15 right) ATL resection. We found that ATL resection has little or no effect on the patients’ preserved pre-surgical ability to perform unfamiliar face individuation, both at the group and individual levels. More surprisingly, ATL resection also has little effect on the patients’ performance at recognizing and naming famous faces as well as at learning new faces. A substantial proportion of right MTLE patients (33%) even improved their response times on several tasks, which may indicate a functional release of visuo-spatial processing after resection in the right ATL. Altogether this study shows that face recognition abilities are mainly unaffected by ATL resection in MTLE, either because the critical regions for face recognition are spared or because performance at some tasks is already lower than normal preoperatively. Overall, these findings urge caution when interpreting the causal effect of brain lesions on face recognition ability in patients with ATL resection due to MTLE. They also illustrate the complexity of predicting cognitive outcomes after epilepsy surgery because of the influence of many different intertwined factors.

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This post is Copyright: Angélique Volfart,
Bruno Rossion,
Hélène Brissart,
Thomas Busigny,
Sophie Colnat‐Coulbois,
Louis Maillard,
Jacques Jonas | July 1, 2023
Wiley: Journal of Neuropsychology: Table of Contents