Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Explanation For 'Face Blindness' Offered

Date:
November 28, 2008
Source:
Carnegie Mellon University
Summary:
For the first time, scientists have been able to map the disruption in neural circuitry of people suffering from congenital prosopagnosia, sometimes known as face blindness, and have been able to offer a biological explanation for this intriguing disorder. Currently thought to affect roughly two percent of the population, congenital prosopagnosia manifests as the lifelong failure to recognize faces in the absence of obvious neurological damage, and in individuals with intact vision and intelligence.

For the first time, scientists have been able to map the disruption in neural circuitry of people suffering from congenital prosopagnosia, sometimes known as face blindness, and have been able to offer a biological explanation for this intriguing disorder.

Related Articles


Currently thought to affect roughly two percent of the population, congenital prosopagnosia manifests as the lifelong failure to recognize faces in the absence of obvious neurological damage, and in individuals with intact vision and intelligence.

Studying subjects aged 33 to 72 using diffusion tensor imaging and tractography, the team of scientists from Carnegie Mellon University, Kings College in London and Ben-Gurion University in Israel were able to show that, unlike that of normal brains, there was a reduction in the integrity of the white matter tracts in the brains of individuals with congenital prosopagnosic. Moreover, the extent of the reduced white matter circuitry was related to the severity of the behavioral impairment.

White matter is one of the three main solid components of the central nervous system. The white matter is the tissue through which messages pass between different areas of grey matter within the nervous system. People with congenital prosopagnosia are not able to recognize faces, while the ability to recognize other objects may be relatively intact.

This discovery of reduced white matter circuitry could also lead to further understanding of other neurodevelopment disorders, such as developmental dyslexia, in which the same underlying neural alterations might be present. The findings are also important as congenital prosopagnosia is, in many cases, inherited and so studies of this sort can help us understand the relationship between genetics and cortical development.

So far, few successful therapies have been developed for affected people, although individuals often learn to use feature-by-feature recognition strategies or secondary clues such as hair color, body shape and voice. Because the face seems to function as an important identifying feature in memory, it can also be difficult for people with this condition to keep track of information about people, and socialize normally with others.

"This disorder is also of great interest in helping us understand how and under what conditions the brain is or is not 'plastic' as these individuals appear not to be able to compensate for their inability to recognize faces even though they have had ample opportunity to do so over the course of development," said Marlene Behrmann, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon.

Behrmann said the team was excited by the possibility that the failure to propagate signals between different regions of the brain might provide a biological explanation for this perplexing disorder.

The results are reported in the Nov. 23 online issue of Nature Neuroscience.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Mellon University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Carnegie Mellon University. "Explanation For 'Face Blindness' Offered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125141604.htm>.
Carnegie Mellon University. (2008, November 28). Explanation For 'Face Blindness' Offered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125141604.htm
Carnegie Mellon University. "Explanation For 'Face Blindness' Offered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081125141604.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins