Face blindness - the inability to recognize familiar faces
Rotating animation of the brain. Highlighted in red is the area of the brain that is damaged.

Prosopagnosia, also called face blindness,[1] is a condition where a person cannot see and recognize faces. It is usually caused by a head injury to the temporal lobe of the brain. Prosopagnosia may also be a birth defect, called congenital prosopagnosia. People with this type of prosopagnosia never develop the ability to recognize faces. People with prosopagnosia usually rely on other physical features, such as the way someone walks and talks, their hair color, their height and build, etc. to recognize other people. Prosopagnosia is not curable or treatable.


Prosopagnosia can be caused by lesions (broken parts of body tissue) in the lower part of the brain.[2] It can also be caused by damaging the nerves in the lower part of the brain, called acquired prosopagnosia. It can also be caused by birth defects, carbon monoxide poisoning, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), Parkinson's disease, or Alzheimer's disease.

Doctors can check patients for prosopagnosia by using PET and fMRI scans to see if their brain reacts when they see faces.[2]


  1. 1. Joshua Davis,"Face Blind," Wired, Nov 1, 2006, accessed Feb 13, 2016,
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mayer, Eugene; Rossion, Bruno (2007). Olivier Godefroy, Julien Bogousslavsky (eds.). Prosopagnosia (PDF). The Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology of Stroke (1 ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 315–334. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511544880.017. ISBN 9780521842617. OCLC 468190971.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)