Study suggests face blindness affects more people than previously thought

Study suggests face blindness affects more people than previously thought

You find it easy to recognize a food, a place, even a place you may have been to once or twice, yet you have difficulty distinguishing faces, as they appear ‘blurred’ with no distinguishing features, making them virtually the same. Or perhaps you are not able to perceive features that differentiate them, but, nevertheless, you are able to recognize expressions that define moods such as joy, sadness or anger.

It could be prosopagnosia or face blindness, a puzzling disorder that can make us believe we recognize people we have never seen or cause us not to recognize those we do know, and is estimated to affect between 2 and 2.5% of the world’s population.

Now, a study by researchers at Harvard Medical School at the VA Boston Healthcare System (United States) suggests that face blindness may be more common than previously thought. The findings of the study, published in the scientific journal. Cortexindicate that up to one in 33 people (3%) may meet the criteria for face blindness. or prosopagnosia. This translates to more than 10 million Americans, according to the research team.

The study found similar performance in face matching between people diagnosed with prosopagnosia with more stringent and less stringent criteria, suggesting that diagnostic criteria should be expanded to be more inclusive. This could lead to new diagnoses among millions of people who may have the disorder without knowing it.

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The investigators found that face blindness sits on a spectrum (which can vary in severity and presentation) rather than representing a discrete group. The authors also offer diagnostic suggestions for identifying mild and severe forms of prosopagnosia based on the guidelines for severe and mild neurocognitive disorders in DSM5, the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

This neurological disorder in severe cases can result in not recognizing one’s own face. Experts stress that it is not a problem related to memory dysfunction, memory loss, vision problems or learning disabilities. It is believed that the disorder is the result of congenital influence, damage or impairment. in a brain fold that appears to coordinate the neural systems controlling facial perception and memory (right fusiform gyrus).

Prosopagnosia can result from stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or certain neurodegenerative diseases. Some cases are congenital or present at birth, in the absence of brain damage. Congenital prosopagnosia appears to run in families, making it likely to be the result of a genetic mutation or deletion.

In addition, as highlighted from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, some degree of prosopagnosia is often present in. children with autism and Asperger syndrome. and may be the cause of poor social development.

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Mild cases improve with cognitive training.

The results of the study are based on a web-based questionnaire and tests administered to 3,341 people. First, the researchers asked the participants whether they had difficulties in recognizing faces in their everyday life.a. They then took two objective tests to determine whether they had difficulty learning new faces or recognizing well-known famous faces.

The results showed that 31 individuals of the 3,341 had severe prosopagnosia, while 72 of the 3,341 had a milder form. The researchers also observed that there were no clearly divided groups of people with a poor or good ability to recognize faces. On the contrary, the ability to recognize faces seemed to lie on a continuum.

Objective tests of face blindness may help in taking measures to reduce its negative impact

Finally, the researchers compared face-matching scores among people with prosopagnosia diagnosed according to different criteria and found that the use of stricter diagnostic cut-offs did not correspond with lower face-matching scores.

The study’s lead author, Joseph DeGutis, notes that the research “is important on several levels.” “First, broadening the diagnosis is important because knowing that you have real objective evidence of face blindness, even in a mild form, can help you take steps to reduce its negative impact on daily life, such as telling consistent coworkers or seeking treatment,” he has detailed.

Recent studies have shown that people with milder forms of face blindness may benefit more from certain treatments than people with more severe forms of the condition. These treatments might include cognitive training to improve perceptual abilities or training aimed directly at improving facial associations.

Finally, factors such as age-related cognitive impairment and social anxiety may further worsen face recognition abilities.. Knowing whether one has mild face blindness may help to be aware of future age- or situation-related declines in face recognition ability.

Kayleigh Williams