Ramachandran on Capgras Syndrome

Vilayanur RamachandranSeveral months ago we posted a discussion of Capgras Syndrome (here & here) in light of the arrest of former Saturday Night Live cast member, Tony Rosato for harassing his wife (who he claimed to be an impostor, as Capgras sufferers are wont to do).

A lecture on the neuropsychology of Capgras by the popular neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran has been posted on the web. Ramachandran argues that Capgras is caused by damage to the neural pathways leading from fusiform gyrus (responsible for face recognition) to the amygdala (responsible for generating emotional response to an event). As a result, the Capgras sufferer recognizes the face, but does not feel the affect usually associated with seeing a loved one, and interprets this as the person being an impostor. (If this account is correct, however, one is left to wonder why the non-recognition is usually limited to a few people, rather than everyone the Capgras sufferer knows.)

The lecture was originally given in March 2007 in Monterey, California. It covers the topics of phantom limb phenomena and synesthesia as well. The lecture is non-technical, intended for a general audience, and Ramachandran speaks in the engaging style for which he is well known.

Tip o’ the hat to Nancy Melucci of Long Beach City College (CA) for bringing this video to my attention.

About Christopher Green

Professor of Psychology at York University (Toronto). Former editor of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. Creator of the "Classics in the History of Psychology" website and of the "This Week in the History of Psychology" podcast series.

One thought on “Ramachandran on Capgras Syndrome

Comments are closed.