Someone you know won’t say hi: behavior that can irritate or even annoy others. But there may be a perceptual disturbance behind it. Propognasia leads to the fact that affected people cannot recognize other people by their faces. Notable example: Brad Pitt. The Hollywood star is convinced that she has face blindness.
He has millions of fans and can hardly save himself from new acquaintances. But for Brad Pitt, encounters with people are a challenge. Because he is always afraid of not even recognizing familiar faces and turning people away. Although he has not yet been diagnosed with the disease, Brad Pitt is sure that he suffers from facial blindness.
Uncle Brad Pitt
In an interview with GQ, Brad Pitt revealed that his biggest concern is that other people think he can’t be approached. However, his difficulties in social situations have a reason. Brad Pitt is convinced that his face is blind. “Nobody believes me,” complains the Hollywood star, who has not yet had an official doctor’s examination for sweating blindness.
The actor has long struggled with people’s misjudgment of him. “A lot of people hate me because they think I’m disrespectful,” Pete said in a 2013 interview with Esquire. So the next time he meets, he doesn’t know if he’s met the person before, when and where. “I offend people with my behavior,” Pete said. “They think I’m selfish or arrogant. But I don’t understand it myself. It’s a huge challenge for a world-famous man and his job description includes making public appearances. Beyond those commitments, his facial blindness means the 58-year-old prefers to “stay home”.
What exactly is facial blindness?
What Brad Pitt describes actually sounds like face blindness. Prosopagnosia is a perceptual disorder in which sufferers are unable to recognize faces. It is usually due to a genetic defect. Very rarely, damage to certain neurons in the brain that are important for facial recognition due to illness or accidents.
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How is facial recognition uncle expressed?
Medical research today assumes that one to two percent of the world’s population is affected by facial blindness, explains doctor and neuroscientist Valentin Riedel, who made a documentary on this topic (“Lost in His Face”). Counted for Germany, that would be about 800,000 to 1.6 million blind people. Because a perception disorder can vary in severity, it is not always easy to diagnose.
People with face blindness have no problem remembering whether or not they know a person. However, they cannot match the face to the person they know, especially among a select group of faces, as in a crowd. It is generally assumed that face recognition blindness is related to the processes in the brain responsible for processing visual information from faces.1
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How is facial blindness diagnosed?
As a first step, a behavioral test such as the Cambridge Facial Memory Test can help. The participant undergoes a series of facial recognition tests. This involves saving a new face and selecting it later from among a series of faces. Round by round, recognition tasks become more and more demanding. If the online test performs poorly, this may indicate a cognitive disorder. On this basis, more detailed examinations can then be used to determine if face recognition blindness actually exists.
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Uncle acquired facial recognition
The term face blindness was coined by the German psychiatrist and neurologist Dr. Joachim Bodamer when he described the disease and its symptoms in a 1947 research paper.2 For a long time, it was assumed that facial blindness was primarily a rare result of head injuries or strokes. Research has now shown that in most cases, the cognitive disorder develops gradually and is inherited.
Congenital (congenital) facial blindness
The congenital form of perceptual disorder has only been known since 1976. Since then, scientists such as Professor Ingo Kinnerknecht of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University Hospital Münster and his research team have been able to establish that congenital prosopagnosia is very common with a global prevalence of 2 to 3 percent and almost always occurs in families.3
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Much is still unknown about cognitive disorder. There are rare cases where it disappears on its own. The congenital variant, which develops gradually, represents a lifelong impairment. Currently, very little is known about genetic background and its influence on brain processes. There is no causal cure for facial blindness yet, but researchers are working on ways to help those affected.4
- 1. Birkbeck University, London. Uncle recognize faces. Research on poor ability to recognize familiar faces
- 2. Ellis, H. D., Florence, M (2007). Bodmer’s paper (1947) about his facial recognition uncle. Cognitive neuropsychology
- 3. Kennerknecht I, Grueter T, Welling B et al. (2005). First report on the prevalence of hereditary non-syndromic face-recognition (HPA) blindness. American Journal of Medical Genetics
- 4. Albonico, A., Barton, J. (2019). Advances in perceptual research: the case of face recognition agnosia. F1000 Research
- With material from dpa