Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tests for ’face-blindness’ reveal disorder may not be so rare

01.06.2006


Little-known disorder may affect as much as 2 percent of the population, studies suggest



Researchers at Harvard University and University College London have developed diagnostic tests for prosopagnosia, a socially disabling inability to recognize or distinguish faces. They’ve already used the new test and a related web site (www.faceblind.org) to identify hundreds of "face-blind" individuals, far more than scientists had identified previously.

The researchers, led by Ken Nakayama and Richard Russell at Harvard and Bradley Duchaine at University College London, have found evidence that prosopagnosia, once thought to be exceedingly rare, may affect up to 2 percent of the population -- suggesting that millions of people may be face-blind.


"Until a few years ago, only 100 cases of prosopagnosia had been documented worldwide, but it now appears the condition is much less rare than had previously been assumed," says Nakayama, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "Testing of 1,600 individuals found that 2 percent of the general public may have face-blindness and a German group has recently made a similar estimate. It’s conceivable that millions of people may have symptoms consistent with prosopagnosia, without even realizing it."

Tests developed by Nakayama and colleagues display dozens of images of cars, tools, guns, houses, and landscapes, along with close-cropped black-and-white pictures of faces. Some of the images recur during the cycle; subjects are asked to indicate, as quickly as possible, whether each image they see is new or repeated. Prosopagnosics who take these tests fail to recognize repetition among the faces in the series, even as they readily identify repeated pictures of other objects.

Reports of prosopagnosia date back to antiquity, although it wasn’t until 1947 that researchers made the first modern, extensive description of symptoms. The neurological basis of the disorder remains poorly understood, although research has confirmed that the brain processes faces differently than other kinds of objects.

The condition can be embarrassing and lead to social isolation: Severe prosopagnosics may mistake complete strangers for acquaintances even as they fail to recognize family members, close friends, spouses, and even themselves. Many report difficulty watching television shows and movies, since they cannot keep track of characters. Face-blind individuals often compensate for their prosopagnosia using non-facial traits, such as hair, gait, clothing, voice, and context.

There are two broad categories of prosopagnosia. Most documented cases have been of acquired prosopagnosia, due to brain damage suffered after maturity from head trauma, stroke, and degenerative diseases. The other type is called developmental prosopagnosia. These individuals can have similar symptoms but with no evidence of brain damage. It is this group that may be the most common.

"Individuals who’ve been face-blind since childhood often do not realize that they are unable to recognize faces as well as others; they have never recognized faces normally so their impairment is not apparent to them," says Russell, a postdoctoral researcher in Harvard’s Department of Psychology. "As a result, many individuals do not recognize their prosopagnosia until adolescence or adulthood."

Steve Bradt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.faceblind.org
http://www.harvard.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Osaka university researchers make the slipperiest surfaces adhesive

18.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Space radiation won't stop NASA's human exploration

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Los Alamos researchers and supercomputers help interpret the latest LIGO findings

18.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>