Prosopagnosia, what is the disorder of Enric Bonaccorti and Brad

from Danilo di Diodoro

Enrica Bonaccorti spoke of this saying she shares the problem with Brad Pitt: some people don’t know how to recognize faces (sometimes even their own). a problem more widespread than it might seem, involving one and a half million people in Italy alone

Everyone recognizes hundreds on the fly face. A remarkable skill that no one needs to learn because it is innate. And it has always been fundamental to survival: it allows you to distinguish relatives, friends, enemies without hesitation. However, a certain percentage of people suffer from it prosopagnosiathis ability is impaired from birth.

He spoke to Corriere Enrica Bonaccorti who said she shares the problem with the actor Brad Pitt. ailment from which he also suffered Luciano De Crescenzo who told how at first sight she had difficulty recognizing even dear friends like Marisa Laurito.

How to recognize by other details

Those who are in such a state suffer because of congenital prosopagnosiathe disorder that affects 2-3 percent of the population. The term comes from ancient Greek prosoponiumwhat the face actually means. In order to be able to orientate in the everyday jungle of faces, people affected by this disorder have to resort to real tricks. forced to learn to recognize people from other signalssuch as hairstyle, way of walking, gestures, even clothes worn. Sometimes it is instead based on a detail of the face itself, such as the shape of the mouth or eyebrow, since prosopagnosia is mainly characterized by difficulty in perceiving face as a wholehowever, this does not affect the possibility of identifying its individual details.

How many are: data

In addition to the congenital form, there is also the acquired form. In this case, the person is born with the normal facial recognition but then loses it, usually after a traumatic event such as a stroke or brain injury. In any case, it is a disorder that can have a huge impact on social life.
People with prosopagnosia are significant difficulties in everyday lifesays professor Davide Rivolta, associate of School of Psychology Dell ”East London University, author of the book “Prosopagnosia: the world of equal faces” (Ferrari Sinibaldi, Milan). For example, they do not recognize movie heroes, but also do not recognize family members, such as neighbors, if they meet them outside the usual context. In severe cases, prosopagnosis is not even able to recognize its own face. It is estimated that in Italy there are around one and a half million people with congenital prosopagnosis, even if they are often poorly understood and detected.

Difficulties in diagnosis

The reasons for this denial may be different. Since we are born without this ability, we tend to think that difficulties are the norm and that it is difficult for everyone to recognize faces. Moreover, the disorder is rarely mentioned, and children are not tested for facial recognition. Added to this is the fact that psychologists, psychiatrists and neurologists are often unable to diagnose prosopagnosia, if not briefly. There is no universal diagnosis of prosopagnosia, explains Rivolta again. However, today there are reliable tools. First of all, the memory test, il Cambridge Face Memory Testwhich requires subjects to learn and then recognize unfamiliar faces among many distractions. Another test we have developed is to distinguish famous people from infamous people. People with prosopagnosis generally have difficulty getting these tests properly. A neuropsychologist is a professional reference figure who can diagnose and intervene in prosopagnosia.

Other interference with objects or bodies

Efforts are also being made to identify techniques that can improve facial perception in people suffering from prosopagnosia. Professor Rivolta’s group published in the journal Neuropsychology study where possible beneficial effects brain stimulation very low current in areas designated for facial recognition. Acquired prosopagnosia may be associated with disorders in other cognitive spheres, for example, non-recognition of objects. In fact, the areas of the brain responsible for recognizing faces and objects are close to each other, so the lesion, even if it mainly affects the facial area, can also affect the area of ​​the face. Object recognition. In addition, congenital prosopagnosia may be associated with difficulties in spatial orientation or difficulties in recognizing bodies, favored by changes at the temporal lobe level. We saw this phenomenon in a group of eleven prosopagnosic people compared to a control group, says Rivolta. Study published in Experimental Psychology Quarterlypoints out that these difficulties are possibly supported by altering common neurobiological processes.

See the monsters

They can also generate changes in face perception monsters. In such cases, it is no longer about prosopagnosia, but about prosopometamorphosis, i.e. face metamorphosis. a rare syndrome, the case of which is described in the journal Lancet by a group of Dutch neuroscientists who were referred by the famous neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks. She was a 52-year-old woman who saw from her youth how suddenly the image of dragon faces appeared before her eyes, while the faces of the people around her also turned into dragon faces: suddenly for relatives and friends, the skin of the face became dark, the features became lengthened , the ears grew, the eyes enlarged and turned into a bright color, yellow, green, blue or red.

May 11, 2022 (change May 11, 2022 | 11:24)

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