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.

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