Things you didn’t know exist, no. 1018: Prosopagnosia

Prosopagnosia – or face-blindness – was the subject of an open day held at the College on 20 September 2011, organised by a team from the Department of Psychological Sciences.

Famous prosopagnosia sufferers include the journalist Mary Ann Sieghart, Duncan Bannatyne of Dragon’s Den, and Oliver Sacks, the famous neuroscientist and author of The Man Who mistook His Wife for a Hat.

The condition affects people’s ability to recognise faces – whether their own, or those of family members – in the mirror. In a few rare cases face-blindness is the result of brain damage caused by an accident or a stroke, but most sufferers (an estimated 2% of the population) have the ‘developmental’ form, where it typically emerges at an early age, and without any visible brain abnormality or damage.

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