What It's Like To Be Face Blind

What It's Like To Be Face Blind

Imagine you recently visited a pine forest. If you later saw a picture of a pine tree, would you know whether it was a tree you had encountered before? Most of us wouldn't, since all trees of a given species look basically the same. This is a common way to describe the experience of prosopagnosia, or face-blindness. People with this condition generally can't tell one face from another -- walking through a crowd of people is like walking through a forest. Prosopagnosia happens on a spectrum, with some people only having trouble differentiating between the faces of strangers and others having a complete inability to know whether what they see is a face or an inanimate object. It has been tricky for researchers to pin down exactly what portion of the population experiences face blindness, but it's estimated at 2%, or roughly millions of people. Many of these people may not even know they have it.

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from Today I Found Out

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Prosopagnosia is a condition in which people can't cognitively see faces. (0:22)

  • 2

    The fusiform gyrus handles visual word recognition, color processing and face and body recognition. (2:28)

  • 3

    People with face blindness tend have trouble interpreting facial expressions as well. (5:00)

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