If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie Mulan, you most likely remember the iconic scene where she ran home after publicly embarrassing herself and her family because of her ordeal with the Matchmaker. During the scene Mulan gazes at her reflection in her family’s lake and questions “Who is the girl I see staring straight back at me? Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?” (Wilder & Zippel, 1998). We know that Mulan was only speaking metaphorically but there are many people in world who are unable to recognize their own reflections. Some of these people may be suffering from severe prosopagnosia. People with prosopagnosia have suffered damage to the non-auditory part of their temporal lobe (Goldstein, 2011) but due to the localization of function, damage to other parts of the brain will have various effects on us. I find it so interesting that something so small (compared to the rest of your body) has almost complete control over the way your body functions.
People with prosopagnosia know what faces are, can tell you the characteristics of a face, can recognize voices, but they cannot recognize who the face belongs to. Imagine having a relative who looked at you and couldn’t recognize who you were. When I first heard of prosopagnosia I instantly thought of dementia. In fact, I wondered if it was considered a form of dementia. Unfortunately for me, I found no evidence or articles that supported that idea. A very popular form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. People with the disease also may have difficulty recognizing faces. However, this is usually due to the deterioration of their memory. This basically means that a person with prosopagnosia may not recognize a person’s face but they will remember other things about the person. A person with Alzheimer’s may recognize a face and then forget who the person is, and then remember again a later time (or not if their memory reaches a certain degenerative point). However, even with those differences apparently there is a rare possibility that someone can have Alzheimer’s and prosopagnosia at the same time (Procopio, 2015).
There are many different things that can happen to you if damage your brain. Depending on the part of your brain that you injure you may impact your sight, hearing, memory, or a number of other things. Prosopagnosia is one of the many conditions that you may suffer from if you injure your brain. And although it is a really rough condition to live with, people can train themselves to remember key things about their friends and family, such as height and hair color, in order to make their lives a little easier.