An important discovery was announced in a new study published in Brain Communications concerning prosopagnosia or facial blindness, a visual deficit that does not allow those who suffer from it to recognize faces.
A team of researchers from Denmark and Norway, to learn more about this particular disease, decided to scan the brains of 15 people from adult Denmark with prosopagnosia and 33 control subjects while looking at face or other images.
By monitoring the brain activity of the brains of people in both groups, the researchers made a surprising discovery.
The researchers expected that the activity of a particular area on the right side of the brain would be different in people with prosopagnosia. This is a region of the brain that we use intensively when we look at faces.
However, the researchers discovered, at the level of the difference in brain activity between the two groups, reduced activity by people with prosopagnosia in an area on the left side of the brain.
The evidence was obtained when people in the two groups looked at images other than faces, such as those of buildings or objects. In these cases there was no difference in the brain activity of the people in the two groups.
This very specific area within which they saw the differences therefore seems to be in the foreground in terms of recognition of much of the brain, something that had never been detected before.
Randi Starrfelt, Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Copenhagen, this study shows that we are close to identifying the brain coordinates for the areas responsible for facial blindness.
The discovery is also important because very little is known about this pathology. We only know that it is only partially hereditary and that it is probably caused by a disorder that occurs during the formation of the brain, an important phase during which neurons migrate to what will become their final position.
Facial blindness may not even be that rare since as many as 2% of the population shows serious problems in recognizing faces.
Very often those who suffer from facial blindness, even if they do not recognize faces, become able to recognize people through secondary characteristics such as voice, the physiognomy of movements, objects such as jewelry, glasses or hair. This is precisely why for many people the pathology is not even diagnosed.