What is Prosopagnosia?

We remember our loved ones all our lives. We remain in touch with them if we stay away. When we miss them, we go through the moments spent together and cherish the sweet memories of the past. After years of separation, when our friends and loved ones meet by surprise, it is a very joyous occasion.

But, what if our best friend is in front of us and we cannot recognize him. It can be a matter of embarrassment, agony and misunderstanding for him at that instance. Later, recollection of the event can leave us sore hearted. Such a condition is medically known as Prosopagnosia. However, the ability to recognize other objects of daily life remains intact in these patients.

This condition is traditionally associated with acute injury to the brain. When one of its sites called the Fusiform gyrus is affected, a person suffers from this face blindness. Of late, it is learnt that this disorder can be inherited too. An estimated 2.5 percent of people all over the world have this disorder.

There are some successful therapies existing to address this disorder. They involve teaching the patients to recognize their loved ones using secondary clues. Some of these clues are hair color, clothing, voice and body structure. Normally, the memory associates every information pertaining to a person with the image of his face. Face blindness, unfortunately, makes Prosopagnosia patients behave abnormally with others in the society.

A research study was conducted on this by researchers from MIT and Beijing. Their study has confirmed that recognition of faces is an inheritable social skill. It is different from general intelligence of a human being. According to researcher Dr. Jia Liu from the Normal University in China, there are special genes meant for face recognition in the brain. Genes natural instructions followed by every component of our body for its normal functioning.

This research has shed light into better understanding of the working of the mind. It has opened new doorways to explore the causes of other developmental disorders like Autism and Dyslexia. However, the future challenge is to understand how the genes play a role in face recognition and whether this knowledge will eventually be helpful in addressing Prosopagnosia.

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