StarrLab: Neuropsychology, reading, and face recognition

StarrLab is a research group working on neuropsychological aspects of visual recognition, with a focus on reading and face recognition. We conduct experimental and brain imaging studies of the effects of brain injury and neurodevelopmental disorders on cognition, and experimental studies with neurotypical participants.

StarrLab is led by Professor Randi Starrfelt.

Image of brain scansOur aim is to understand how visual recognition is organized in the brain, by studying participants in whom these processes have in some way broken down, in particular patients with aquired reading disorders (alexia) and people with prosopagnosia (‘face blindness’). We work with researchers from different fields both in Denmark and internationally.


Professor Randi Starrfelt


  • Doctor Psychologiae, 2018
  • PhD in psychology, 2008
  • Specialist in clinical neuropsychology, 2007
  • MSc psych. 2000


  • 2017 - : Professor (mso)
  • 2013 - 2017: Associate Professor, Dept. of Psychology, University of Copenhagen
  • 2011- 2013: Assistant professor, Dept. of Psychology, University of Copenhagen
  • 2008 - 2011: Post.doc., Center for Visual Cognition, Dept. of Psychology, University of Copenhagen (Center of Excellence)
  • 2005-2008: PhD student, Center for Visual Cognition, Dept. of Psychology, University of Copenhagen
  • 2001-2004: Neuropsychologist, Hillerød Hospital, Denmark.
  • 2000-2001: Psychologist/Research associate, Rogaland psychiatric hospital, Stavanger, Norway.

Organisation / Administration

  • 2018 -       : Member of the Academic Council, Faculty of Social Sciences
  • 2014-2017: Union representative (Danish Psychological Association) at Dept. of Psychology
  • 2003-2012: International representantive, Danish Neuropsychological Society
  • 2003-2006: President, Danish Neuropsychological Society
  • 2002-2007: Board member, Danish Neuropsychological Society

Go to Randi Starrfelt's research profile.

















































For the full lists of publications, see:


Developmental prosopagnosia (DP) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs face recognition. People with DP never learn to recognize others by their faces in the fast and automatic manner that characterizes unimpaired face recognition. Research on DP has increased substantially over the last ~15 years, and is mainly conducted within the fields of cognitive neuropsychology and neuroscience, using quantitative experimental, cognitive, and brain imaging techniques.

In the present project, we will investigate the ‘phenomenology of prosopagnosia’, using in-depth interviews to explore what it is like to be prosopagnosic and specifically how people with DP experience perceiving, imagining, and remembering faces. The project will contribute to a fundamental characterization of DP, which will increase our understanding of the nature of DP, inform cognitive theory, and may lead to novel hypotheses about the cognitive and perceptual deficits involved.

The project is funded by a project grant from the Independent Research Fund – Denmark.

Project PI: Professor (mso) Randi Starrfelt.

Co-PI: Associate Professor Tone Roald.










The Back of the Brain project (BoB) is concerned with visual and cognitive deficits following stroke to posterior brain areas. This is a large, collaborative project, with key partners at University College London, University of Cambridge, and University of Manchester.

Brain scan - left hemisphere patients

The aim of the project is to move beyond simple correlations between selective deficits in visual recognition (like pure alexia and prosopagnosia) and the corresponding lesions, and take a broader perspective on the deficits seen following lesions to posterior cortical areas. The project aims to bridge, integrate, and re(de)fine theories of visual recognition of different categories: words, objects, and faces. To achieve this aim, we have developed new experimental paradigms, and combine methods from neuropsychological single case approaches and experimental psychology with a large sample size, and high-resolution brain imaging.

This project is funded by a Sapere Aude - DFF Starting Grant from the Danish Council for Indpendent Research.

This project is in its concluding phase.

The BoB-project group: Matt Lambon Ralph, Alex Leff, Randi Starrfelt, Ro Julia Robotham, Nicolaj Mistarz, Sheila Kerry & Grace Rice

As part of this project, we have developed a freely available screening test for visual field deficits. Download the test here.








This project is about “face blindness”, or developmental prosopagnosia, as it is also called. It is estimated that about 2 % of the population suffers from great difficulties in recognising faces, even the faces of people they know well. This occurs in the absence of brain injury, other cognitive abilities are typically unaffected, and the face recognition problem is present throughout their lives. This has only recently become a topic of scientific investigation, and still little is known about the cause of this deficit. Using neuropsychological and experimental methods, as well as brain imaging, we investigate patterns of perceptual and cognitive performance in developmental prosopagnosia and normal controls. In addition, we investigate face recognition performance in a much more well known developmental disorder: developmental dyslexia, in order to learn more about the relationship between reading and face recognition. We are also interested in people with superior face recognition.

Image showing face blindness

This project is a collaboration between several departments at Danish universities (University of Southern Denmark and UCPH), as well as NORMENT at the University of Oslo, Norway. The project is supported by the Danish Council for Independent Research - Humanities. (PI: Professor Christian Gerlach, SDU).

This project is in its concluding phase. Follow the output from the study on ResearchGate.

Are you faceblind? If you want to participate or learn more about our project you can read more about it here


The EnVision-CP project is concerned with visual perceptual deficits in adults with cerebral palsy (CP). It is estimated that approximately 50-70% of children with CP have visual impairments that are caused by their cerebral damage or atypical cerebral development. However, systematic assessment is not part of current clinical practice in individuals with CP. Furthermore, studies investigating visual abilities in CP have focused on children and youth. Knowledge on visual impairments in adults with CP, and how the expression of these may change across development, is therefore limited.

The aims of the project are:

  1. To describe how youth and adults with CP experience vision impairments
  2. To describe the types of visual perceptual impairments that may be observed in youth and adults with CP
  3. To develop and validate a visual perceptual screening tool for cerebral visual impairment in youth and adults with CP that can be used to inform choices related to interventions.

The project is funded by the Elsass Foundation, which aims to improve the quality of life for people with CP and their families.

PI: Ro J. Robotham.

PhD student: Katrine Sand.







The Pure alexia symposium took place in Copenhagen on 15 - 17 May 2013. It was funded by the Sapere Aude programme: Independent Research Fund Denmark.

Tim Shallice and Randi Starrfelt
Pure alexia symposium, University of Copenhagen, 15 - 17 May, 2013. Organized by Tim Shallice and Randi Starrfelt.

I had the fortune of working with Tim Shallice to organize an expert symposium about pure alexia in Copenhagen in 2013. 28 scientists working with reading and alexia gathered for three days discussing recent findings in pure alexia research and how the research field may move forward towards a better understanding of reading and visual word recognition. The conference resulted in a special issue of the journal Cognitive Neuropsychology. In the introductory paper, Tim Shallice and I discuss how pure alexia has been and should be defined. The paper is freely available here.

See images, stories, abstracts and more here: Pure alexia meeting Copenhagen.







International collaboration

  • Jason Barton, Professor, PhD, Dept of Neuro-opthalmology, University of British Columbia, Canada.
  • Marlene Behrmann, Professor, PhD, Dept. of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
  • Matt Lambon-Ralph, Professor, PhD, Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Alex Leff, MD, Ph.D., Professor, Institute of Neurology, University College, London, UK
  • Marialuisa Martelli, Associate professor, PhD, University of Rome - La Sapienza, Italy
  • Heida Maria Sigurdardottir, Assistant professor, PhD, & Arni Kristjansson, Professor, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Kathleen Vancleef, PhD, Postdoctoral fellow, Medical Science Division, University of Oxford, UK
  • Lars Tjelta Westlye, Professor, PhD, Dept. of Psychology, University of Oslo, and NORMENT, Norway

National collaboration

  • Tobias S. Andersen, Associate professor, Danish Technical University
  • Sofie Beier, Associate professor, School of Design, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
  • Christian Gerlach, Professor, Dept. of Psychology, University of Southern Denmark
  • Maria Nordfang, Neuropsychologist, Department of Neurology, Rigshospitalet, Glostrup, and Associate professor, Department of Communication and Psychology, Aalborg University
  • Mads Poulsen, Associate professor, Department of Nordic studies and Linguistics, UCPH
  • Katrine Sand, Neuropsychologist, Department of Neurology, Zealand University Hospital
  • Jacob Wienecke, Associate professor, Department of Nutrition, Exercise, and Sports, UCPH










Name Title Phone E-mail
Randi Starrfelt Professor +45 35 32 48 86
Katrine Sand Andersen PhD student
Erling Nørkær PhD student
Stella Lystlund Student assistant 
Victor Bjerring Scherfig Student assistant 


Randi StarrfeltRandi Starrfelt
Phone +45 35 32 48 86