An appreciation of Bruce and Young's (1986) serial stage model of face naming after 25 years


J. Richard Hanley, Department of Psychology, University of Essex, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ, UK (e-mail:


The current status of Bruce and Young's (1986) serial model of face naming is discussed 25 years after its original publication. In the first part of the paper, evidence for and against the serial model is reviewed. It is argued that there is no compelling reason why we should abandon Bruce and Young's claim that recall of a name is contingent upon prior retrieval of semantic information about the person. The current status of the claim that people's names are more difficult to recall than the names of objects is then evaluated. Finally, an account of the anatomical location in the brain of Bruce and Young's three processing stages (face familiarity, retrieval of semantic information, retrieval of names) is suggested. In particular, there is evidence that biographical knowledge about familiar people is stored in the right anterior temporal lobes (ATL) and that the left temporal pole (TP) is heavily involved in retrieval of the names of familiar people. The issue of whether these brain areas play a similar role in object processing is also discussed.