I recognize your face but I can't remember your name: A simple explanation?


Department of Psychology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK


When shown the faces of familiar people, subjects are typically slower and less accurate at retrieving names than other semantic information. This finding, along with converging evidence from neuropsychological studies, has influenced most theoretical accounts of face recognition (e.g. Bruce & Young, 1986). These accounts propose that names are stored separately from semantic information, and that they may not be retrieved in the absence of other information. Here we show that it is possible to account for empirical findings without positing a separate store for names. The account is based on an implemented simulation with an interactive activation and competition architecture. We demonstrate that the fact that most names are unique leads naturally to the patterns of recall found in experimental studies.