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Face memory impairment in the cotard delusion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Katharine M. Leafhead, Michael D. Kopelman

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCase Studies in the Neuropsychology of Memory
PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781317715856
ISBN (Print)9780863775079
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

King's Authors


This chapter describes the case of a 61-year-old man who developed the J. Cotard delusion, and present evidence that is consistent with the theory held by Young and his colleagues. RB’s Cotard delusion arose in the context of depression, and he displayed impaired memory for faces and buildings, and complained about feelings of unreality. A. W. Young et al. noted that face-processing impairments are not in themselves sufficient to cause the Cotard delusion, as many brain-injured patients are impaired on tasks of face processing but do not believe they are dead. Formal testing revealed impairments in face processing, including recognition memory for faces and labelling of emotional facial expressions. The National Adult Reading Test consists of 50 irregularly spelt words and provides an estimate of pre-morbid IQ. RB’s contrast sensitivity function was tested using the Vistech 6000. RB’s behaviour was highly reminiscent of Cotard’s description of patients suffering from le delire de negation who displayed “anxious agitation”.

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