Prosopagnosia, also known as face blindness, is a neurological disorder that impairs face identity recognition. It affects the ability to recognize familiar faces and to learn new ones.1
This type of visual agnosia can be congenital or the result of a brain lesion on associative cortex areas.2
People with prosopagnosia often have difficulties recognizing family members, friends, and co-workers, and, in more severe cases, they can fail to recognize their own faces in the mirror. They normally cope with this disorder by focusing on other attributes such as hairstyle, voice, or clothing.
Although prosopagnosia is not associated with learning disabilities, vision loss, and memory problems, it can generate other problems. Most notably, prosopagnosics report chronic anxiety and feelings of guilt and failure. They also incur long-term consequences such as limited employment opportunities, loss of self-confidence, and avoidance of social interactions.3
The diagnosis of prosopagnosia as a disorder is based on the presumption that facial recognition is an established skill shared by the greater population.
However, there are some indications that, just as face blindness exists, there are also some individuals who display an extraordinary ability to recognize familiar faces in different situations as well as to learn unfamiliar faces.4
For this test, you will be shown a series of headshots and you must indicate if you have seen that face previously in the series or if it is a new face.
The goal of the test is to assess facial recognition, not memorization. Therefore, the same individual can appear with different hairstyles, clothes, and facial expressions.
This Exposure Based Face Memory Test is designed as a tool to provide an insightful perspective on your face recognition skills, in comparison to other test-takers.
This test is designed as an entertaining and educational tool. The results do not constitute a psychological or psychiatric evaluation of any kind and may not offer an accurate portrait of the mental fitness of the test taker. We do not guarantee the accuracy of the results and these should not be used as an indicator of the capacities of the individual for a specific purpose.
Responses may be recorded and used for research purposes or to be otherwise distributed. All responses are recorded anonymously.
Prosopagnosia can be congenital or acquired.
In the first case, the person suffers from this disorder without having brain damage. It can normally be identified during childhood. In some cases, this impairment is accompanied by other developmental disorders such as Turner syndrome, autism, and Williams syndrome.
Acquired prosopagnosia is a consequence of brain damage in associative cortex areas. It often occurs as a result of a head injury or stroke.
As it is not a visible disorder, the individuals themselves or people close to them are the ones who will first notice any abnormalities recognizing faces. The diagnosis can then be confirmed by a neuropsychologist or a researcher who is specialized in the field through a series of tests similar to this Exposure Based Face Memory Test but designed to assess the severity of the condition.
There is no cure or specific treatment for prosopagnosia, although researchers continue to investigate this disorder and develop training programs aimed at improving facial recognition.
Nevertheless, prosopagnosics can normally develop coping mechanisms either by themselves or with the help of researchers and associations that support people with face blindness. These mechanisms include focusing on hair color and haircut, common clothing style, or voice, for example.
As for acquired prosopagnosia, the treatment targets the brain lesion that led to the condition. The effectiveness and success of the rehabilitation depend on the severity of the lesion and the person’s age.
1 Starrfelt, Randi & Barton, Jason J.S. (2022), Prosopagnosia. In Della Sala, Sergio (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Behavioral Neuroscience, 2nd edition (Second Edition). Elsevier. 597-604. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-819641-0.00047-5.
2 Rodrigues, A., Bolognani, S., Brucki, S., & Bueno, O. (2008). Developmental prosopagnosia and adaptative compensatory strategies: Case study. Dementia & neuropsychologia, 2(4), 353–355. https://doi.org/10.1590/S1980-57642009DN20400021
3 Yardleya, Lucy et al. (2008), Psychosocial consequences of developmental prosopagnosia: A problem of recognition. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 65 (2008) 445–451
4 Russell, R., Duchaine, B., & Nakayama, K. (2009). Super-recognizers: people with extraordinary face recognition ability. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 16(2), 252–257. https://doi.org/10.3758/PBR.16.2.252
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