PSYB57 Chapter 2- The Neural Basis for Cognition
Capgras Syndrome: An Initial Example-The human brain is an extraordinary complex organ in which the
functioning of the whole is dependent on many interconnected systems. A remarkable disorder known
as Capgras syndrome. It is sometimes observed among elderly. It can result from many brain injuries.
Someone with Capgras syndrome is fully able to recognize the people in her world—her husband, her
parents, her friends—but she is convinced that these people are not who they seem. She thinks that the
son or the real husband is kidnapped or worse. And the people who are on the scene are the most well-
trained imposter. The person insists that there are slight differences between impostor and the person
he has replaced—subtle changes in personality or tiny changes in appearance. Since no one else detects
these changes, these suspicions can lead the Capgras suffer to desperate steps people sometimes
have murdered the supposed imposter.
The reason facial recognition involves 2 separate systems in the brain: 1) that leads to cognitive
appraisal (“I know what my father looks like and I can perceive that you closely resemble him”) and the
other to a more global, emotional appraisal (“You look familiar to me and also trigger a warm response
in me”). The concordance of these two appraisals then leads to the certainty of recognition (“You
obviously are my father”). In Capgras syndrome, though the latter (emotional) processing is disrupted,
leading to the intellectual identification without the familiarity response.
Neuroimaginthisg techniques developed in the last few decades, that allow researchers to take high-
quality, 3 dimensional “pictures” of living brains, without in any way disturbing the brain owners.
One site of damage in Capgras patients is in the temporal lobe, particularly on the right side of the brain.
This brain process disturbs the amygdala, an almond- shaped structure in the brain, seems to serve as an
“emotional elevator” helping an organism to detect stimuli associated with threat or danger. With
damaged amygdala, therefore, people with Capgras syndrome won’t experience the warm sense if
feeling good (saf