Explanation For ‘Face Blindness’ Offered

From ScienceDaily.com:

For the first time, scientists have been able to map the disruption in neural circuitry of people suffering from congenital prosopagnosia, sometimes known as face blindness, and have been able to offer a biological explanation for this intriguing disorder.

…[U]nlike that of normal brains, there was a reduction in the integrity of the white matter tracts in the brains of individuals with congenital prosopagnosic. Moreover, the extent of the reduced white matter circuitry was related to the severity of the behavioral impairment.

…People with congenital prosopagnosia are not able to recognize faces, while the ability to recognize other objects may be relatively intact.

…So far, few successful therapies have been developed for affected people, although individuals often learn to use feature-by-feature recognition strategies or secondary clues such as hair color, body shape and voice. Because the face seems to function as an important identifying feature in memory, it can also be difficult for people with this condition to keep track of information about people, and socialize normally with others.

[T]hese individuals appear not to be able to compensate for their inability to recognize faces even though they have had ample opportunity to do so over the course of development,” said Marlene Behrmann, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon.

Behrmann said the team was excited by the possibility that the failure to propagate signals between different regions of the brain might provide a biological explanation for this perplexing disorder.

So distressing to have myself and my face-blind peers around the world referred to as “[T]hese individuals”, and have our brains presented in stark contrast to “normal brains”.

On the other hand, you’d have to say that normal people, when picking up their son at school, wouldn’t have to stare into the crowd on Day 3,000 and wonder if that kid was the one. And really, on balance, it’s a relief to know that there’s a real physical reason for it, and not me just being goofy.

Read the full article in Science Daily.
November 28, 2008

As well, here’s something that made me laugh out loud when I saw it used recently on a forum: someone had posted a message about some subject (as it might be, face blindness), and someone else had posted a reply, asking for a link to more information on the topic. In short order, a link had been posted in a reply, along these lines:

“Sure, it’s here.”

Oh, that made me laugh and laugh.

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