September 23, 2013

Prosopagnosia: Why Some are Blind to Faces

A few months ago, I had an hour-long conversation with Professor P in his office discussing his course that had just wrapped up. We veered off-topic toward the end of our talk, broaching the subjects of his grad school days, scuba diving hobby, and my blogging.

Less than an hour later, I was loitering around the college's entrance in my coat, ready to go home for the day. I spotted Dr. P locking up his office and gave him a wave.

He eyed me strangely and walked a couple steps closer before returning the greeting. "Oh, didn't recognize you in the coat. You were wearing green earlier. Have a good night, Jordan."

It would have been a puzzling encounter if I didn't already know about his strange afflication.

Dr. P has prosopagnosia, or the inability to recognize faces. "I only identified you by the blonde ponytail," he admitted, evidently blind to my appearance in his class everyday—much less from our extensive conversation just an hour prior.