Prosopagnosia – Causes , Symptoms , Treatments , and more

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What Is Prosopagnosia? – An overview

Face blindness, also referred to as prosopagnosia, is the inability to recognise faces.

Face blindness frequently develops from birth and typically persists for the majority of all of a person’s life. It may significantly affect day-to-day living.

It is one of the brain diseases that makes it challenging to identify people by their faces. The word “Prosopagnosia” is derived from the Greek language, Prosopon (Greek word for face) and agnosia (a medical term for lack of recognition).

People with this disorder sometimes struggle to identify familiar faces, including family members, spouses, close acquaintances and even reflections of themselves in mirrors.


Although prosopagnosia is surprisingly common, those who suffer from it frequently develop compensatory methods of recognising the people they interact with.

What is the prognosis?

Prosopagnosia can have a negative social impact. People with the disease frequently have trouble distinguishing between family members and close friends. They often rely on other methods of identification, such as voice, attire, or distinguishing physical characteristics, but they are less reliable than facial recognition.

Types of Prosopagnosia

Congenital Prosopagnosia

Congenital prosopagnosia is the term used to describe the loss in face processing that is noticeable in childhood, without any underlying neurological cause and with full sensory and cognitive function.

Stroke, traumatic brain damage or particular neurodegenerative disorders can cause Congenital prosopagnosia. When there is no brain damage, it can be a congenital condition that is present at birth.

Acquired Prosopagnosia

Damage to the occipitotemporal lobe causes acquired prosopagnosia, which is most frequently seen in adults. Apperceptive prosopagnosia and associative prosopagnosia are two subtypes of acquired prosopagnosia.

Stroke, traumatic brain damage or particular neurodegenerative disorders can all cause prosopagnosia.

Symptoms of Prosopagnosia

The most common symptom of face blindness is the inability to recognise or distinguish between various faces. As a result, developing relationships could become more difficult on a personal and professional level.

It can be extremely difficult for those with face blindness to recognise someone who appears in an unexpected situation.

There are several ways in which this issue with facial recognition can appear:

  • Having trouble recognising familiar faces in images or person
  • Having trouble describing faces
  • Confusing storylines in plays or movies with plenty of characters
  • Inability to recognise people wearing uniforms or other comparable attire
  • Establishing identities by focusing on distinctive attire, hairstyles, jewellery, perfumes or colognes or by asking personal questions

Causes of Prosopagnosia

It’s crucial to understand that vision impairment, learning difficulties or memory loss do not contribute to facial blindness. It is a specific issue with identifying faces rather than a memory issue where the individual is forgotten.

Depending on the type of face blindness, many reasons exist. A congenital disease known as developmental face blindness prevents people from learning to recognise faces even though they have normal vision and memory.

The fusiform gyrus area at the basal surface of the temporal and occipital lobes, which is associated with face processing, may be anatomically different in these people despite the absence of visible brain lesions.

How is Prosopagnosia diagnosed?

It is required to undergo a test by the neurologist to gauge your capacity for face feature recognition. The evaluation might measure your capacity for:

  • Recognise familiar or unfamiliar family members’ faces.
  • When you see sets of faces, take note of any variances or similarities in the features on the faces.
  • Identifying emotional clues in a group of faces.
  • Analyse a group of faces for information such as age or gender.

Physicians may assess probable face blindness with the Warrington Recognition Memory of Faces (RMF) and the Benton Facial Recognition Test (BFRT).

However, the results of these exams might not be completely accurate in identifying face blindness. According to one study, facial blindness was not consistent with irregular scores. The advice of a doctor is far more valuable.

Treatment for Prosopagnosia

There is no known cure for prosopagnosia. However, training programs are being created to aid in improving facial recognition while researchers continue to look into the condition’s underlying causes.

Currently, prosopagnosia is incurable. The treatment focuses on “workarounds” and other coping mechanisms that can help prosopagnosics recognise others without the need for facial clues.

This could involve identifying a person by height, build, dress, accessories, verbal characteristics and gait.

Many prosopagnosics learn compensatory techniques to identify persons, such as recognising a person by their voice, attire, or walking style.

But compensating techniques based on contextual cues do not always work and may break down when a person with prosopagnosia meets someone they know in an unexpected setting or who’s changed their look.

Summing up

Dealing with this disease might be difficult. You might worry that with other people, you come across are disinterested in you. You can get lonely, shun relationships, or pass up employment possibilities as a result.

Being open and truthful with others about the disease is a good thing. You won’t have to be concerned about people misinterpreting you that way.


What do people with prosopagnosia see when they look at a face?

Some prosopagnosics are unable to recognise specific facial expressions, determine a person’s age or gender, or follow their gaze. Some people could even fail to recognise their faces in pictures or in the mirror. A person’s capacity to identify items, such as locations or automobiles, may be impacted by prosopagnosia.

How do I know if I have prosopagnosia?

Incapacity to identify familiar faces, particularly when they see them out of context, such as Neighbours, close relatives, or family acquaintances. Having trouble keeping up with character plots in movies or TV series. Find it challenging to make friends.

How common is prosopagnosia?

According to several studies, up to 1 in 50 persons—or roughly 1.5 million people in the UK—may have developed prosopagnosia. Those who have developmental prosopagnosia typically never learn to recognise faces.

Is prosopagnosia part of autism?

No, Prosopagnosia is not a part of autism.

Can people with prosopagnosia recognise animals?

While intelligence and other aspects of visual processing are typically unaffected, some people with facial blindness also have trouble identifying animals.

Is face blindness a symptom of ADHD?

Yes, face blindness is one of the symptoms of ADHD. People with ADHD may struggle with facial perception and recognition.


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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