Face Blindness (Prosopagnosia)

What is Face Blindness?

Face blindness is also referred to as Prosopagnosia and is a brain disorder marked by the inability to recognize faces including one’s own face while object recognition and decision making remain intact.

The term Prosopagnosia comes from the Greek words for “face” and “lack of knowledge.” Face blindness is thought to be caused by damage, abnormalities, or impairment in the right fusiform gyrus which is a fold in the brain that seems to coordinate the neural systems that control memory and facial perception.

Face blindness may also result from traumatic brain injury, stroke, or certain neurodegenerative diseases.  There are two types of Prosopagnosia: congenital and acquired. A person with congenital Prosopagnosia never sufficiently develops the ability to recognize faces. Acquired Prosopagnosia is mostly found in adults and results from occipito-temporal lobe damage.  The condition makes it difficult to socialize normally and keep track of information regarding other people.

What are the Symptoms of Face Blindness?

The inability to recognize faces including one’s own, constantly confusing characters in the movies and on television, inability to recognize someone after they’ve gotten a haircut, and difficulty recognizing friends, neighbors, classmates, and co-workers out of context.

How is Face Blindness Treated?

Treatment focuses on helping the individual to use secondary clues in identifying other people such as clothing, body shape, gait, hair color, voice, and skin color.

These compensatory strategies cannot treat the condition, but might help the person have near-normal social interactions.

Last Reviewed:
October 05, 2016
Last Updated:
August 09, 2017