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Help for people who forget faces

12 February 2006

If you have experienced the horror of someone at a party greeting you as an old friend when you have no idea who they are, imagine how it must feel to have that inability to recognise people day after day throughout your life.

Scientists are on the brink of understanding far more about the condition, prosopagnosia, which can make it difficult, sometimes impossible, to recognise faces. Dr Brad Duchaine [UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience] has published a study to show there is a very small, separate part of the brain that allows people to recognise faces.

“If those cells aren’t working, someone may not be able to tell two faces apart, yet they will be able to recognise two horses apart,” he said. “This indicates that we go about looking at and analysing faces in a different way from how we recognise objects.”

As many as one in 50 people may suffer from the condition, but will for the most part go undiagnosed because doctors know little about it.

Jo Revill, ‘The Observer‘, 12 February 2006