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Tests for 'face-blindness' reveal disorder may not be so rare

onfirmed that the brain processes faces differently than other kinds of objects.

The condition can be embarrassing and lead to social isolation: Severe prosopagnosics may mistake complete strangers for acquaintances even as they fail to recognize family members, close friends, spouses, and even themselves. Many report difficulty watching television shows and movies, since they cannot keep track of characters. Face-blind individuals often compensate for their prosopagnosia using non-facial traits, such as hair, gait, clothing, voice, and context.

There are two broad categories of prosopagnosia. Most documented cases have been of acquired prosopagnosia, due to brain damage suffered after maturity from head trauma, stroke, and degenerative diseases. The other type is called developmental prosopagnosia. These individuals can have similar symptoms but with no evidence of brain damage. It is this group that may be the most common.

"Individuals who've been face-blind since childhood often do not realize that they are unable to recognize faces as well as others; they have never recognized faces normally so their impairment is not apparent to them," says Russell, a postdoctoral researcher in Harvard's Department of Psychology. "As a result, many individuals do not recognize their prosopagnosia until adolescence or adulthood."


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Source:Harvard University


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