Ever have trouble recognising people’s faces? If so, you’re not alone, but some people struggle with face-recognition much more than others.
It’s estimated that 2% of the world’s population suffers from face blindness, or prosopagnosia, a neurological condition preventing people from recognising faces. That’s one person in every 50, Radiolab reports.
Although most of us don’t suffer from prosopagnosia, we all struggle with face-recognition in varying degrees. This was demonstrated to audience members at the World Science Festival when they tested their face-recognition abilities with an interactive quiz.
The crowd was shown the faces of 10 celebrities, with their hair blocked out, for 15 seconds each. They were asked to write down the name of each celebrity or, if they couldn’t recall the name, a description of who they are.
Here is one of the faces they were asked to recognise:
Here’s another that might be a bit harder:
By a show of hands, some people in the audience revealed they had only recognised one or two of the celebrities. Only 10 audience members said they had recognised every celebrity.
I took this test and recognised seven of the celebrities. Watch the full video below to take the test yourself and see how many faces you can recognise.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), people with prosopagnosia may be unable to recognise a familiar face, differentiate between unknown faces, or tell the difference between a face and an object. Some people with higher degrees of impairment may even be unable to recognise their own face and the faces of close family and friends.
Prosopagnosia even prevents some people from recognising the faces of their own children or significant others.
Prosopagnosia may be caused by abnormalities, damage, or impairment in a part of the brain that helps with facial perception and memory, according to NINDS. The condition is not related to memory, vision, or learning disabilities.
Although it can be caused by stroke, brain injury, or neurodegenerative diseases, some healthy people are born with prosopagnosia, which appears to run in families. People with prosopagnosia adapt by relying on other ways to identify people, such as voice, clothing, and distinct physical characteristics.
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