Capgras syndrome: a novel probe for understanding the neural representation of the identity and familiarity of persons. (9/11)

Patients with Capgras syndrome regard people whom they know well such as their parents or siblings as imposters. Here we describe a case (DS) of this syndrome who presents several novel features. DS was unusual in that his delusion was modality-specific: he claimed that his parents were imposters when he was looking at them but not when speaking to them on the telephone. Unlike normals, DS's skin conductance responses to photographs of familiar people, including his parents, were not larger in magnitude than his responses to photographs of unfamiliar people. We suggest that in this patient connections from face-processing areas in the temporal lobe to the limbic system have been damaged, a loss which may explain why he calls his parents imposters. In addition, DS was very poor at judging gaze direction. Finally, when presented with a sequence of photographs of the same model's face looking in different directions, DS asserted that they were "different women who looked just like each other'. In the absence of limbic activation, DS creates separate memory "files' of the same person, apparently because he is unable to extract and link the common denominator of successive episodic memories. Thus, far from being a medical curiosity. Capgras syndrome may help us to explore the formation of new memories caught in flagrante delicto.  (+info)

Reduced autonomic responses to faces in Capgras delusion. (10/11)

People experiencing the Capgras delusion claim that others, usually those quite close emotionally, have been replaced by near-identical impostors. Ellis & Young suggested in 1990 that the Capgras delusion results from damage to a neurological system involved in orienting responses to seen faces based on their personal significance. This hypothesis predicts that people suffering the Capgras delusion will be hyporesponsive to familiar faces. We tested this prediction in five people with Capgras delusion. Comparison data were obtained from five middle-aged members of the general public, and a psychiatric control group of five patients taking similar anti-psychotic medication. Capgras delusion patients did not reveal autonomic discrimination between familiar and unfamiliar faces, but orienting responses to auditory tones were normal in magnitude and rate of initial habituation, showing that the hyporesponsiveness is circumscribed.  (+info)

Consciousness and body image: lessons from phantom limbs, Capgras syndrome and pain asymbolia. (11/11)

Words such as 'consciousness' and 'self' actually encompass a number of distinct phenomena that are loosely lumped together. The study of neurological syndromes allows us to explore the neural mechanisms that might underlie different aspects of self, such as body image and emotional responses to sensory stimuli, and perhaps even laughter and humour. Mapping the 'functional logic' of the many different attributes of human nature on to specific neural circuits in the brain offers the best hope of understanding how the activity of neurons gives rise to conscious experience. We consider three neurological syndromes (phantom limbs, Capgras delusion and pain asymbolia) to illustrate this idea.  (+info)