Prosopagnosia (face blindness)
Prosopagnosia (from Greek prósōpon, meaning "face", and agnōsía, meaning "non-knowledge"), also called face blindness. It is a cognitive disorder of face perception in which the ability to recognize familiar faces, including one's face (self-recognition), is impaired, while other aspects of visual processing (e.g., object discrimination) and intellectual functioning (e.g., decision-making) remain intact.
The term originally referred to a condition following acute brain damage (acquired prosopagnosia), but a congenital or developmental form of the disorder also exists, with a prevalence of 2.5%. The brain area usually associated with prosopagnosia is the fusiform gyrus, which activates specifically in response to faces.
The functionality of the fusiform gyrus allows most people to recognize faces in more detail than they do similarly complex inanimate objects. For those with prosopagnosia, the method for recognizing faces depends on the less sensitive object-recognition system. The right hemisphere fusiform gyrus is more often involved in familiar face recognition than the left. It remains unclear whether the fusiform gyrus is specific for the recognition of human faces or if it is also involved in highly trained visual stimuli.
Face blindness often affects people from birth and is usually a problem a person has for most or all of their life. It can have a severe impact on everyday life. Many people with prosopagnosia are not able to recognize, family members, partners, or friends. They may cope by using alternative strategies to recognize people, such as remembering the way they walk or their hairstyle, voice or clothing. But these types of strategies do not always work – for example, when a person with prosopagnosia meets someone in an unfamiliar location.
The impact of prosopagnosia
A person with prosopagnosia may avoid social interaction and develop a social anxiety disorder, an overwhelming fear of social situations. They may also have difficulty forming relationships or experience problems with their career. Feelings of depression are common. Some people with prosopagnosia cannot recognize certain facial expressions, judge a person's age or gender, or follow a person's gaze. Prosopagnosia can affect a person's ability to recognize objects, such as places or cars. Many people also have difficulty navigating. This can involve an inability to process angles or distance, or problems remembering places and landmarks. Following the plot of films or television programs can be almost impossible for someone with prosopagnosia because they struggle to recognize the characters. Someone with prosopagnosia may worry that they appear rude or not interested when they fail to recognize a person.
What causes prosopagnosia?
There are 2 types of prosopagnosia:
Developmental prosopagnosia – where a person has prosopagnosia without having brain damage.
Acquired prosopagnosia – where a person develops prosopagnosia after brain damage, often following a stroke or head injury.
In the past, most cases of prosopagnosia were thought to occur after a brain injury (acquired prosopagnosia). But research has found that many more people have prosopagnosia without having brain damage (developmental prosopagnosia) than was first thought.
Things to know about prosopagnosia
Prosopagnosia is not related to memory dysfunction, memory loss, impaired vision, or learning disabilities.
Congenital prosopagnosia appears to run in families, which makes it likely to be the result of a genetic mutation or deletion.
Some degree of prosopagnosia is often present in children with autism and Asperger’s syndrome and may be the cause of their impaired social development.
There's no specific treatment for prosopagnosia, but researchers are continuing to investigate what causes the condition, and training programs are being developed to help improve facial recognition. It's thought that compensatory strategies that help with person recognition, or techniques that attempt to restore normal face-processing mechanisms, may work for some people with either developmental or acquired prosopagnosia. A person's age when their brain was damaged (in the case of acquired prosopagnosia), the type and severity of the brain injury and the timing of treatment are all thought to be important factors in how effective a rehabilitation program will be.
Prosopagnosia (face blindness), By Anonymous, Accessed on 13th July 2022.
Prosopagnosia (face blindness), By Anonymous, Reviewed on 8th July 2022.
This Blog on 'Prosopagnosia (face blindness)' has been contributed by Chrisann D'souza. She is an ambitious and results-driven individual. She loves to learn about the human psyche and hopes to raise awareness about mental health, gender issues, and cruelty to animals.
She is part of the International Journal of Neurolinguistics & Gestalt Psychology, IJNGP is a peer-reviewed journal that serves as a platform for the enrichment, articulation, and support of the constantly emerging field dedicated to promoting the study and research in Neurolinguistics Gestalt Psychology, and Therapy.