Prosopagnosia

Prosopagnosia is a neurological disorder characterized by the inability to recognize faces.  It is also known as face blindness or facial agnosia. There are different degrees of presentation of this pathology and some patients go through life without knowing that they have this problem characterizing it as just “a quirk” or that “they just are not good at remembering faces”.

Advanced forms of prosopagnosia cause some patients not to be able to recognize their own face or their own family members. Prosopagnosia is thought to be the result of abnormalities, damage, or functional impairment in the right fusiform gyrus, located in the inferior occipitotemporal region of the brain. The fusiform gyrus is related to the limbic system and seems to coordinate the systems that control facial perception and memory.  Prosopagnosia can result from stroke, traumatic brain injury, or certain neurodegenerative diseases

Prosopagnosia seems to also be congenital and run in certain families, pointing to a possible genetic disorder in the fusiform gyrus region.

Fusiform GyrusFusiform gyrus.

The etymology of the term prosopagnosia is complex. It starts with the Greek word “gnosia”, a derivate of [γνώση] (gnósi)  meaning “cognition”, “awareness”, or "knowledge". Adding the prefix “a-" leads to [agnosia] meaning lack or absence of cognition or awareness. The prefix "prosop-" derives from the Greek term [πρόσωπο] (prósopo) means f"ace". Therefore, prosopagnosia means “absence of facial awareness”.

There are famous people with prosopagnosia including Jane Goodall and Steve Wozniak.

Here is an interesting video from YouTube on the topic.

videocover010

Image courtesy of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fusiform_gyrus_animation.gif
Video courtesy of YouTube and Lucy Barnarf
Note: The links to Google Translate include an icon ()that will allow you to hear the pronunciation of the word.d