What do they have in common the prince from Cinderella, Lois Lane and 3% of the populationn? The prosopagnosia. You have to have a lot of difficulty discerning faces if to recognize a woman with whom you spent the night dancing you need to try on a shoe. Or for simple glasses to serve as a costume for your partner and co-worker. This is fiction and logically it is a comical way of looking at it. But prosopagnosia is a real condition that, according to a study recently published in Cortex, has so far had an underestimated incidence. It was estimated that he suffers from it approximately 2% of the population. However, according to them, the figure would be 3% or, depending on how it is measured, even 5%.
The prosopagnosiaalso known as face blindnessconsists of a more or less great difficulty in recognizing familiar faces. The most affected people may even be unable to recognize themselves. themselves in a mirror. And, on the flip side, there are some extreme cases where the opposite is true. They think they find something familiar in people they have never actually seen.
can occur after brain damagein which case it is easier to diagnose. However, there are also cases in which they are present from birth. These are the most difficult to diagnose, since for these people, even though not recognizing faces is very uncomfortable, it may seem normal, so they never undergo a diagnosis. This is what has led the authors of this new study to seek another approach.
What happens to people with prosopagnosia?
People with prosopagnosia usually have a brain region known as the fusiform gyrus affected. If intact, faces can be recognized by a different procedure than that used to discern inanimate objects. However, if it is affected, faces are recognized as if they were objects, so features are not given as much attention and recognition can be more difficult.
It should be noted that other cognitive functions are not affected, which is why sometimes, if the case is mild, it is difficult to diagnose. But this one is important for two reasons, despite there is no treatment. The first is that these people understand what is happening to them. This, on a psychological level, can be enlightening and beneficial. And, the second, that, even without treatment, can be trained with tricks to facilitate that recognition.
How have you discovered underdiagnosis?
The authors of this new study on prosopagnosia gave facial recognition surveys to 3,100 Americans. Different scoring methods were used to differentiate someone with prosopagnosia from a person who is simply slightly less adept at recognizing faces. Now, depending on where the scale was set, the incidence could go from 0.13% to 5.42%. The standards normally used are so stringent that, with the survey conducted in the study, the figure would have been 1%.
However, they also saw something curious. And it is that people who are not normally diagnosed with prosopagnosia obtained worse scores than those who do have the diagnosis. For this reason, they concluded that there must be a spectrumas for autism, which reflects different levels of face blindness.
For this reason, they believe that it would be necessary to do distinctions between major prosopagnosia and mild prosopagnosia. They found 31 people in the first case and 72 in the second, so the figure would go up to 3%.
If the diagnostic criteria to make this classification are changed, many people could understand what is happening to them. It should be noted that many of us have once said that “I am very bad at differentiating faces”. That doesn’t mean we have prosopagnosia. It is something more complex. But yes, some of the people who say it may have it. Fortunately, it’s more annoying than serious, so there’s not much to worry about.