Face blindness

What is face blindness?

Answer: Face blindness, or prosopagnosia, is the name of the neurological disorder when a person is unable to recognize another person by looking at their face.

Often a result of damage to the fusiform gyrus, patients with prosopagnosia can see individual parts of a face, but will be unable to determine the person's identity. They often use clues about the person, such as their voice, clothing, and mannerisms to decipher who it is. As expected, they would perform poorly on a Mooney facial recognition test.

There is currently no known treatment for prosopagnosia, but learning coping mechanisms can help improve the quality of life for these patients. For example, many patients with face blindness use nonfacial cues to identify others - clothing, hairstyle, and gait are all important clues that can be used to decipher who others are. It is estimated that about 1% of people have some sort of face blindness.

Actor Brad Pitt, Apple founder Steve Wozniak, neurologist Oliver Sacks, and artist Chuck Close are some well renowned people with varying degrees of prosopagnosia. Chuck Close is best known for his portraits of faces.