Face Blindness (Prosopagnosia) - Signs

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What is prosopagnosia?

Prosopagnosia is a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to recognize faces. Prosopagnosia is also known as face blindness or facial agnosia. The term prosopagnosia comes from the Greek words for face and lack of knowledge. Depending upon the degree of impairment, some people with prosopagnosia may only have difficulty recognizing a familiar face; others will be unable to discriminate between unknown faces, while still others may not even be able to distinguish a face as being different from an object. Some people with the disorder are unable to recognize their own face. Prosopagnosia is not related to memory dysfunction, memory loss, impaired vision, or learning disabilities. Prosopagnosia is thought to be the result of abnormalities, damage, or impairment in the right fusiform gyrus, a fold in the brain that appears to coordinate the neural systems that control facial perception and memory. Prosopagnosia can result from stroke, traumatic brain injury, or certain neurodegenerative diseases. In some cases it is a congenital disorder, present at birth in the absence of any brain damage. 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.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: Kati, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: November 01

I had 2 temporal lobe strokes, 1 each side in 1999. As payroll clerk, I couldn't keep workers' faces straight; I paid the wrong guy with another's pay. I did not recognize my client at my daughter's wedding (my client for 2 years at that time). It is terribly hard to be bookkeeper, keep accounts/receivable and accounts/payable people straight. I don't work now, that was the final straw. Now I always ask people who they are up front immediately. I still don't recognize faces, even my live-in daughter sometimes. Movie 'Faces in the crowd' and Brad Pitt article clued me in to what is wrong. Hope the future holds some remedy.

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Comment from: Carmen, Female (Patient) Published: February 25

I didn't realize I had face blindness until I saw the term, till my early twenties I thought I was just clueless about faces. This is not confusing someone, it's not having the ability to recognize faces. Many people think that I'm rude because I don't say hi to them even if they are neighbors unless they stick to wearing almost always the same style of clothes and I see them at a usual time I'll know it's them. When I had this neighbor who wore different wigs every week I never knew it was her. It's also happened with friends, family members and boyfriends. When I walk my dog and I see other people walking their dogs I always recognize them through their dogs. Otherwise it's just a sea of faces. One time it took me minutes to realize I was in a picture. Unless someone points me to the person they are talking about in pictures I don't recognize them. I have very little social life, but I don't really feel it's that terrible since I didn't lose this ability, I never had it and that's how I live my life.

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