People with congenital prosopagnosia, or face blindness, are unable to use facial features to identify the person in front of them. Until now, the cause of facial blindness was assumed to be associated with the later stages of the perceptual process. However, a new study has now revealed that the causes of congenital face blindness can be traced back to an early stage in the perceptual process.
Lead researcher Andreas Luschow from Charite hospital in Berlin said, "We were able to show that even the earliest face-selective responses, those recorded approximately 170 milliseconds after seeing a face, are altered in people with congenital prosopagnosia. We were also able to show that these changes are closely linked to their deficit in recognizing faces."
Results showed that even life-long contact with other people does not enable affected persons to compensate for this face recognition deficit. This would suggest that the underlying neural mechanisms are divided into distinct, closed units, making it impossible for other areas of the brain to take over their function.
The findings were published in PLOS ONE.