Prosopagnosia Research

What is prosopagnosia or face blindness?

  • See recent article in The Conversation

  • Approximately 2-3% of the general population find it very difficult to recognise other people via their face, a condition known as developmental or congenital prosopagnosia.

  • Our research to date has shown that:

    • prosopagnosia is a condition that runs in families, and therefore may have a genetic basis,

    • the prevalence of congenital or developmental prosopagnosia is estimated at approximately 2.5% of the educated Australian population,

    • children with prosopagnosia may look at different parts of face than children with typical face recognition skills,

    • targeted training can improve face recognition and modify which regions of a face are fixated by people with prosopagnosia (although note that only one child was trained so we do not know whether training would be effective in other people),

    • children can have specific difficulties recognising faces (but not similar objects) without having autism,

    • some adults with prosopagnosia who have difficult overtly recognising faces (e.g., naming faces) will show indices of covert recognition. That is, when shown a pair of faces in which only one is famous, they will be able to pick out the famous face, even though the face does not appear familiar and cannot be named.

    • many adults with prosopagnosia do not show difficulty recognising facial expressions, although different processes may be used to recognise expression,

    • two important perceptual mechanisms underlying face processing, holistic processing (the ability to see a face as a whole rather than individual components) and face adaptation (the ability to update face processing mechanisms) are impaired in groups of people with prosopagnosia.

Sign-up to the Australian Prosopagnosia Register

  • I manage the online Australian Prosopagnosia Register, where people with lifelong difficulties recognising faces can register their details and be invited to participate in ongoing research projects.

  • We may contact you in the future to ask if you would like to participate in a research study. You are under no obligation to participate in any study. For each particular study that we ask you to take part in, you will be sent an information sheet with detailed information on what the study involves (i.e., what you have to do in the study, how long it would take, where you have to go to take part, and whether there are any benefits for you, such as payments to reimburse your travel expenses). This means that over the course of the next few years we may send you information about three different studies, but that you may choose to take part in only one (or none!) of the studies, after you have read what is required in each one.

  • Download the latest newsletter summarising our research findings: Prosopagnosia Newsletter 2016