Face Blindness / Prosopagnosia

mossy_sloth

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#1
Prosopagnosia, also called face blindness, is an impairment in the recognition of faces. It is often accompanied by other types of recognition impairments (place recognition, car recognition, facial expression of emotion, etc.) though sometimes it appears to be restricted to facial identity. Not surprisingly, prosopagnosia can be socially crippling. Prosopagnosics often have difficulty recognizing family members, close friends, and even themselves. They often use alternative routes to recognition, but these routes are not as effective as recognition via the face

Symptoms of Prosopagnosia

Everyone sometimes has trouble recognizing faces, and it is even more common for people to have trouble remembering other people's names. Prosopagnosia is much more severe than these everyday problems that everyone experiences. Prosopagnosics often have difficulty recognizing people that they have encountered many times. In extreme cases, prosopagnosics have trouble recognizing even those people that they spend the most time with such as their spouses and their children.

One of the telltale signs of prosopagnosia is great reliance on non-facial information such as hair, gait, clothing, voice, and other information. Prosopagnosics also sometimes have difficulty imagining the facial appearance of acquaintances. One of the most common complaints of prosopagnosics is that they have trouble following the plot of television shows and movies, because they cannot keep track of the identity of the characters.
source

I would be interested to know if anyone on the board suffers from this condition. When I found this website I was delighted to find out that there might be an actual reason for my inability to recognise people despite having seen them a number of times. Of course, it might not be this at all, I might just be unobservant. But I have enormous difficulty following tv shows because I can't keep track of the characters, I have to meet people about five times before I might recognise them and I often find myself talking to people I've never met because I think they might be someone I know, but I just don't recognise them and am afraid of snubbing them. I do find it socially debilitating. It must be awful for severe cases.


Also, I'm assuming that this must be a problem with spatial perception, in a sense...and I wondered if it was relevant to other spatial perception syndromes, particularly Alice in Wonderland syndrome which is up on the board somewhere.

The reason I mention this is because recently I found out that my cousin suffers from both of these things to a mild extent, like I do. I might be completely barking up the wrong tree, but does anybody have any ideas?

(please bear in mind that this is quite a personal issue for me, so if you think I'm making leaping assumptions please break it to me gently!)
 

Mythopoeika

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#2
light said:
I would be interested to know if anyone on the board suffers from this condition. When I found this website I was delighted to find out that there might be an actual reason for my inability to recognise people despite having seen them a number of times. Of course, it might not be this at all, I might just be unobservant. But I have enormous difficulty following tv shows because I can't keep track of the characters, I have to meet people about five times before I might recognise them and I often find myself talking to people I've never met because I think they might be someone I know, but I just don't recognise them and am afraid of snubbing them. I do find it socially debilitating. It must be awful for severe cases.
I don't think I suffer from prosopagnosia, but occasionally I do have problems with recognising people. This is especially prone to happen where those people don't have particularly distinctive facial characteristics, or I've only met them a couple of times previously.

I have to meet some people a few times before they 'register'.

It hasn't presented any major problems to me, so I guess I don't suffer from this syndrome.

While on this subject, I should mention that I've watched one or two 50's and 60's films where all the characters looked alike, and I completely lost track of the plot.
Thankfully, film-makers have learnt a lot since those days!
 

escargot

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#3
I too have a poor memory for faces, leading to the same probs as Mytho has with differentiating between similiar-looking characters in fillums and on TV.

My poor visual memory is associated with dyspraxia though.
 
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#4
I do have problems with names and faces - I would have walked straight passed an ex-girlfriend the other day if she hadn't have said hello and I completely ignored a couple of people in the supermarket and I've known for 15-20 years (I saw them and then thought its not them) and it goes on and on.

However, this sounds like a whole different ball game. Granted it may be part of a spectrum but not recognising family mambers and clsoe friends is a more serious condition.
 
A

Anonymous

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#5
Found this on:
Link

MODELS OF FACE RECOGNITION AND DELUSIONAL MISIDENTIFICATION: A CRITICAL REVIEW


Nora Breen, Diana Caine, Max Coltheart

Abstract:

The "two-route model of face recognition" proposed by Bauer (1984) and adopted by Ellis and Young (1990), has become a widely accepted model in studies of face processing disorders, including both prosopagnosia and the delusional misidentification syndromes. We review the origin and application of the two-route model of face recognition in examining both the neuroanatomical pathways and the cognitive pathways to face recognition. With respect to the neuroanatomy, we conclude that face recognition is subserved by a single pathway, the ventral visual pathway, as there is no evidence to suggest that the dorsal visual pathway is capable of visual recognition or of providing an affective response to familiar stimuli. We demonstrate how operation of the ventral visual pathway and its connections to the amygdala can parsimoniously account for the findings in the literature on prosopagnosia and delusional misidentification syndromes. In addition, we propose a cognitive model of face processing stemming from the work of Bruce and Young (1986). Our model involves two pathways subsequent to the system responsible for face recognition: one pathway to a system containing semantic and biographical information about the seen face, and a second pathway to a system responsible for the generation of an affective response to faces that are familiar. We demonstrate how this cognitive model can explain the dissociations between overt and covert recognition observed in prosopagnosia and the Capgras delusion.

PS your ventral and dorsal pathways carry the what and where information from eyes to brain - I think a good experiment on this was done by someone called Mishkin...but I'll have to check to make sure :D :oops:

[Emp edit: Fixing big link]
 

mossy_sloth

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#6
thanks for that Gadaffi Duck, very interesting, although I won't pretend that I completely understood it!
 

OldTimeRadio

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#9
I experience this, although it's probably sub-clinical.

I'll snub "Mary" by approaching her on the street, thinking to myself "that woman looks just a little bit like Mary," then walking on without giving any sign of recognition.

Causes problems, it do. Especially when I'm DATING Mary.
 

mindalai

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#10
Like other people on this thread I think I have a very mild version of this. I'm quite often not sure if people are who I think they are until I've had a really good look - even people I know quite well, including family. I have real trouble teeling people apart unless I know them really well.

My theory for why I have trouble is that I'm quite short-sighted and nobody realised until I was in my early teens. I think that my face-recognition "software" never got much practice when I was a child because I just couldn't see people most of the time so I learnt to recognise people by their clothing and gait. I find it much easier to recognise people now if they're wearing clothes I'm used to seeing them in.
 

fluffle9

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#11
I'm quite bad with faces. I tend to recognise people initially by clothing style, haircut and body language. I have friends who are identical twins, and have had no difficulty telling them apart, and didn't even notice they were twins at first - I just thought they looked similar. I'm OK with names though.
 

OldTimeRadio

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#12
I once passed a dear female friend on a downtown Cincinnati street without giving even the slightest sign of recognition,

Fifty paces or so beyond I said to myself "That was Jane!," turned around and raced back towards her.

She was running towards me! It was like a scene from an Ed Wood version of DR. ZHIVAGO. We threw our arms around each other, both of us full of apologies.

The only thing we could think of to explain our MUTUAL non- recognition is that the many dozens of times we'd previously been together had always been by evening in friends' or indeed our own kitchens and living rooms.

By daylight, out in public, we'd utterly failed to "see" each other.

Like two fish flopped out of the aquarium tank.
 

mindalai

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#13
That reminds me of something my brother told me about. He was passing through the town where our uncle, aunt and cousins live and decided to pay a surprise visit. He went to their house and only our aunt was home. She told him that our uncle was in the pub (surprise!) so my brother set off to see him there. He found him in the pub, tapped him on the shoulder and said hello. Uncle didn't have a clue who he was! Even though they are far from being strangers and see each fairly often, because this was an unexpected setting the recognition just wasn't there. It seems from posts on here that it is easier to recognose people when we see them in the context we're used to.
 

TheQuixote

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#14
mindalai said:
It seems from posts on here that it is easier to recognose people when we see them in the context we're used to.
Indeed. Last year I spent a fair bit of time at the local hospital and one day one of the nurses called out my name and asked how I was. I was a bit taken aback as I did not who this person was. She then turned to her colleague and said, "This is Q, I used to work with her!".

Thing is, she is very distinctive looking and in fact she was the double of Julie T. Wallace and I'd have no problem recognising her now but back then it was a case of 'who the hell are you?'.

The worst of it is that it seemed like I had been paired up with her to train her in the job so we had worked various nights together about 5 years previously. I still couldn't place her and to this day I can't even remember working with her or even still, her name. After that I saw her practically every day for at least a month where she would always chat with me about various ex-colleagues, our old boss (all of whom I could place quite easily). I was too embarrassed to ask for her name and I must admit I did lie and say 'oh yeah, I know who you are now' when in actual fact she was a total stranger to me.
 

OldTimeRadio

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#15
Back in January, 1970, I met the most beautiful woman I've ever known and a deep and abiding friendship developed that lasted until her death 17 years later. (In fact, I fully expect that friendship to eventually resume.)

It turned out that we both worked in downtown Cincinnati, and over the next several years I'd accidentally meet her on the street an average of one to three times every week.

It follows that I 'd been passing this same extraordinary woman without ever noticing her for the previous decade.

And I LIKE looking at women's faces when I'm out walking.
 
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#16
mindalai said:
It seems from posts on here that it is easier to recognose people when we see them in the context we're used to.
Some would argue that this could have a neuroanatomical explanation. There are thought to be roughly two types of 'recognition' that occur in different brain areas which can operate fairly independently. So you can recognise somebody by recalling the episodic/spatial context that you last saw them in (which involves recalling the scene or snapshot of the moment and involves an area called the hippocampus) or you can recognise somebody but feel frustrated that you cannot remember where you know them from (simple recognition involves a neighbouring area that sits more at the end of the high order visual processing stream). In real life we usually use both but they can be dissociated.

I have an awesome ability to recognise faces ( to the point where it can get a bit creepy) but I have terrible spatial memory. Take me to any unfamiliar (or familar now I think about it!) building and ask me to find my way out and I'll be lost. It's really embarrassing. It happened only yesterday, I had an appointment with the nurse and on my way out found myself in the basement with all the cleaning equipment. :oops:
 

filcee

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#17
I have no problems with facial recognition, I can even identify people I haven't seen for several years (despite what age has done to them). Unfortunately, I haven't got a clue about their name, don't know where I know them from, and don't know how long I've known them, or how long it is since I last saw them.
It's led to some 'interesting' situations, where I've talked to someone I recognise, desperatley fishing for clues as to why and how I know them eventually giving up and leaving both of us mildly confused. I'll see them some time later, and realise I only pass them on the street on a regular basis and don't really know them at all...
 
A

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#18
There does indeed appear to be a 'face processing' area in the brain. I'd be happy to post some info if people are interested -
 

OldTimeRadio

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#19
As I've previously posted here, I have trouble recognizing faces.

HOWEVER, just a few years ago I picked up a thousand-page "History of American Literature" which I'd never previously seen and very casually ruffled through the "bulk" of the book in a second or two (no more).

The thought then occured to me: "I've never before seen that particular photograph of American novelist Willa S. Cather."

It took me nearly 15 minutes to find the photo again - one portraying Miss Cather during her teenage years.

I'd obviously seen and recognized Willa Cather's face, and an unusual representation to boot, in something approaching 1/750th of a second!
 

kirmildew

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#20
recognition

I have a very good memory for faces and names not to mention useless tat. I can still identify kids I met for a few days or weeks at infant school; workmen who dug up our road when I was about 6;the Avon lady my mum had visiting when I was still too young for nursery; I can remember the middle names of people I met in the pub as a drunken teenager; all the numberplates of my Dad's and Grandad's cars from when I was 7 to the present day. I think my brain's a bit too full nowadays. Still, I can't remember what I went upstairs for once I get up there.
 

OldTimeRadio

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#21
Re: recognition

The late Albert Benjamin "Happy" Chandler, twice governor of Kentucky (20 years apart) and the man who as Commissioner of Baseball racially integrated American rounders <g> claimed that he had memorized the names and faces of more than 750,000 Kentuckians.

When he made an abortive run for a third gubernatorial nomination in his last years he was chauffered around Dayton, Kentucky, by the same volunteer who'd performed the same service more than forty years previously. The chauffeur was flabbergasted that Chandler remembered him.

"Of course I remember you," Chandler said. He then proceeded to give the man's name, that of his wife, both their ages, then the names and ages of their several children.

This was covered by the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio/Northern Kentucky news media at the time.
 

mindalai

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#22
that reminds me of something I saw a few years ago when I was on holiday in Goa. I might have told this story somewhere on here before. I was sitting in a cafe and there were several other people there. There was an english man aged about 50-60 at the table next to mine eating a meal. An indian man, who was about 40ish came up to him and said "is your name xxx[I can't remember what the name was now]" The englishman looked surprised and said yes, that was his name. The indian man then asked him if he had been to india before about 20 years ago, and he said that he had. It turned out the Indian man had been working in his family's restaurant (or something along those lines) when he was 18 and had served the englishman and obviously had a conversation with him. The englishman then remembered him and was delighted to see him again. It was quite touching to watch and amazing how much each one remembered about the other despite the 20 year gap and the fact that they'd only met once before. I think it's incredible that with the number of tourists Goa gets every year and the fact that the man had aged 20 years that the indian man would remember him.
 

OldTimeRadio

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#23
I trust nobody will mind if I relate a joke here, since it almost perfectly meshes with the subject matter.

In the 1920s a rich young Manhattanite takes a train tour of the American West. When our hero disembarks from the train in East Bullethole, Nevada, he sees a large oilcloth banner advertising "CHIEF SILVER EAGLE - KNOWS ALL, SEES ALL, TELLS ALL, FORGETS NOTHING - ASK HIM ANY QUESTION.: Under the sign sits the Chief, gnarled and old, easily the oldest human being the visitor has ever encountered.

The young tourist asks: "What did I have for breakfast in the train dining car?"

"Eggs" answers the chief.

That momemtarily impresses the young traveler until he's back on the train and realizes that "everybody has eggs for breakfast."

It's now 2006 and our formerly-young Manhattanite, now a centurnarian himself, decides to take one last tour oif the West. As his chauffeur-driven, air-conditioned limousine pulls into East Bullethole he's amazed to see the same Indian sitting by the side of the road, looking not a day older than he'd appeared 80 years earlier.

The visitor walks up to the Chief, raises his right palm and says "How!"

The Chief responds: "Sunny side up."
 

mindalai

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#25
It's a funny thing. I can't remember faces but I can remember exactly which book I first read that joke even though I haven't seen it for over 25 years!
 

mindalai

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#27
Readers Digest compendium, red leathery cover, 5 silver circles on the spine, gold edged pages, blue ribbon pagemarker.

It was an old book of my mum's. I must ask her if she's still got it.
 
A

Anonymous

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#28
Interesting. As research has shown, you have much of the gist, but not the exact information. Although, my speculation would be better off under a 'reconstructed memory' thread, I am interested if Mindalai can remember more of the account before getting hold of the book. Note: am not being horrid, am merely attempting to discern a pattern noted in psychology of memory. Am happy to explain my position on this.
 

mindalai

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#29
I don't understand. If I can remember more of what account? More about the book? I can remember the odd story that was in it if that was what you meant?

confused :?
 
A

Anonymous

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#30
Sorry, let me clarify: You said you remembered the joke. And you gave us your memory of the book covering. However, it seems unlikely, to me, that the account you remember was exactly the same as the above that sparked the memory, so, I was hoping that you could remember any other detail and then post said recollection. If your mother still has the book, and you can access it, I thought it might be interesting to compare your memory against the written word. As said, I am not being horrid,just attemtping to confirm, or question, some points of basic 'theory' regarding the reconstruction of memory. Note: hope the above sounds Ok. Have been good re: booze for the past week, but am currently celebrating a friend's b'day, my upcoming b'day and my sister's b'day; give a duck a break :lol:
 
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