What is Prosopagnosia?

Most of us are guilty of forgetting the name of someone we've met before. But we're generally quite good at remembering faces, and certainly recognize close friends at a glance.

But for sufferers of prosopagnosia, a condition marked by an inability to recognize faces, a group of loved ones might look no different than a band of strangers. Sometimes people with prosopagnosia have trouble identiying objects as well as faces, and other times their sole difficulty is face recognition.

Acquired prosopagnosia can kick in after a brain injury or stroke, whereas developmental prosopagnosia appears early and seems to have genetic roots. Researchers estimate that one in 50 people may have some form of prosopagnosia.

There is no cure for prosopagnosia (also called face blindness), so those who have it must learn to note cues (red hair, tall stature) that will help them identify their own friends, family members, and acquaintances. They can draw inspiration from successful people who have coped with the condition, such as Oliver Sacks and Chuck Close.

Recent Posts on Prosopagnosia

Prosopagnosia: Why Some Are Blind to Faces

By Jordan Gaines Lewis on September 23, 2013 in Brain Babble
We've all been unable to put a name to a face at one time or another. But for 2% of the population, even the faces of family and friends can be strangers.

How Much Asperger's Is Really Face or Emotion Blindness?

Prosopagnosia (face blindness) and Alexithymia (blindness to emotions) are both more common than autism. Are they related? Are some people who identify as Asperger's actually better described by one or both of those disorders? Are they conditions independent, or interconnected?

Whose Face Is That?

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on April 15, 2012 in Trouble in Mind
Two percent of the healthy population suffer from some degree of prosopagnosia, or face blindness. Prosopagnosia can also result from brain damage, and these rare cases have given us unique insights into how we store our autobiographical memories.

A Prosopagnosia Love Story

Meet the perfect person, add prosopagnosia, and stir.

Is Face-Blindness Curable?

By Susan R Barry Ph.D. on July 27, 2010 in Eyes on the Brain
The ability to recognize another's face is thought to be an innate human skill. Yet, this ability varies from person to person, and a small but significant minority of the population suffer from varying degrees of "face-blindness" or, more technically, prosopagnosia. Is face-blindness curable with training and does this training resemble therapy used for improving other perceptual skills?