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  • Topic: Prosopagnosia, Temporal lobe, Face perception
  • Pages : 5 (1484 words )
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  • Published : June 19, 2010
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Every day a married man wakes up next to a woman he doesn’t recognize. No, he hasn't been unfaithful; he has prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize or distinguish faces. The woman is his wife, but when he looks at her, he can’t tell who she is. It’s not a memory problem; if you tell the man his wife's name or if he hears her voice he knows her very well.

Prosopagnosia is a type of agnosia. Agnosia is the inability to recognize the import of sensory impressions, according to Dorland's Medical Dictionary for Health Consumers. However, prosopagnosia is an inability or difficulty in recognizing familiar faces; it may be congenital or result from injury or disease of the brain, according to the American Heritage® Medical Dictionary.

Statistics suggest that 2% of the population may suffer from prosopagnosia or ‘face-blindness’. Prosopagnosia was initially described and studied in detail in the 1947 by Joachim Bodamer, a German neurologist.

The aim of this paper is to examine how the cognitive functions and physiological functions combined bring about a specific behaviour in people.

Prosopagnosia is a neuropsychological condition involving the inability to recognize faces of people they know. It is said to be a neurological, because it involves the brain, any damage done to a specific area of the brain impairs the patient from recognizing faces. The specific area of the brain responsible for this disorder is the fusiform gyrus which is part of the temporal lobe. It is also called the occipitotemporal gyrus. Researchers infer then that the problem has something to do with the fusiform gyrus itself or in the neural pathways that convey information from that area to other parts of the brain, like the occipital lobe, which processes visual information. so, prosopagnosics usually rely on voice, style of walking, hairstyle, clothing etc. to attain recognition of the person they regularly meet or are in contact with; it could be people as close as their own family members.

Types of Prosopagnosia

-Acquired Prosopagnosia: It occurs after brain damage from stroke, neurodegenerative diseases or head injuries. Individuals with this type of prosopagnosia had normal face recognition abilities in the past which has been impaired or lost due to the brain injury. Imagery is eliminated due to lesions in the anterior temporal lobe. Imagery for facial shape but not features is degraded by lesions of the right hemisphere’s fusiform gyrus, which severely damages perception of facial configuration. Feature imagery was degraded only when there was associated left occipito-temporal damage.

- Associative Prosopagnosia is thought to be an impairment to the neural pathways between early face perception processes and the related information we hold about people in our memories, which are stored in the hippocampus. Prosopagnics with this type of prosopagnosia can recognize faces and distinguishing them apart by looking at pictures. They can also determine the age and gender of the person. However, they cannot remember any information about the person such as their name, profession or what they did the last time they met that person.

2) Apperceptive prosopagnosia's is said to be a disorder of some of the earliest processes in the face perception system. People with this disorder can't make any sense of faces and are unable to distinguish between different faces when they are presented with pictures. They may also be unable to work out attributes such as age or gender from a face. However, they may be able to recognise people based on non-face clues such as their clothing, hairstyle or voice.

3) Developmental prosopagnosia is thought to be a form of 'congenital prosopagnosia', and that some people are born with a selective impairment in recognizing and perceiving faces. Individuals with this type often do not realize until they are older that they are unable to recognize faces as well as other people do. Some...
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