Prosopagnosia – Face Blindness

Posted by on April 15, 2011 in Thoughts | 2 comments

This is fascinating.

The term “Prosopagnosia” or “Face Blindness” is a “… disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, while the ability to recognize other objects may be relatively intact.” People who suffer from this use different cues (voice, smell etc.) and other things such as gait to identify people they know. I can only imagine what this must be like.

Two people whose work I admire very much, Chuck Close (painter and artist) and Oliver Sacks (physician, best-selling author, and professor of neurology and psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center) both suffer from this condition. This video gives a really interesting insight into the condition, and is from the World Science Fair 2010 which took place last year. Enjoy.

(running time 1hr 21m)

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  1. I have kind of a mild version of this. I have a very hard time recognizing people from photographs and visa versa unless I am very well acquainted with them. And if I recognize someone in a movie (other than a very well known person) it’s usually because I have looked away from the movie and that lets me get a voice ID on them. I have an above average ability to recognize voices — almost uncanny, as long as I’m not looking at where they’re coming from — and below average for faces.

    So I don’t exactly have this disorder, though I am generally a bit disorderly.

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  2. Awesome post, Marty.

    This is the first I’ve heard of this sort of disability, and it’s really interesting how peeps with it can manage to succeed despite, or even because of it by both getting around it and even taking advantage of other capacities.

    Almost all of us appear to be walking collections of strengths and weaknesses.

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