The Curious Case of Brad Pitt’s Face Blindness

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One of Hollywood’s most recognizable and bankable stars wants to apologize if he fails to recognize you. 

In a recent interview, Brad Pitt claimed that he suffers from a rare neurological disorder known as prosopagnosia. Better known as “face blindness,” the condition limits your ability to recognize the faces of others, sometimes even close friends and relatives.

Though he has not been officially diagnosed, Pitt says he has extreme difficulty recognizing other people’s faces. He adds that some have labeled him self-absorbed or conceited, thinking he’s lying about having face blindness.

Premier Health Now spoke with Fadi M. Tayim, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist and Division Chief of the Brain Mapping Center at the Clinical Neuroscience Institute, to learn more about prosopagnosia and how it is diagnosed.

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“Because of its rarity, prosopagnosia can be difficult to diagnose and there are even varying levels of severity,” says Dr. Tayim. “It is caused more commonly because of trauma such as a stroke or brain injury, which causes damage to a fold of the brain associated with facial perception. It can also occur as a congenital defect that someone is born with.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, prosopagnosia is an extremely rare condition believed to occur in about two percent of the general population. Studies have shown that the average person is able to recognize and remember thousands of faces throughout their lifetime. But those who suffer from face blindness can struggle to make those same basic connections.

Prosopagnosia specifically affects your visual recognition of other people. It’s not the result of memory loss, such as the inability to remember a person’s name even though you may recognize their face.

Dr. Tayim says, “I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be suffering from face blindness to get in touch with their primary care physician, who can then refer them to a neurologist or neuropsychologist for further testing.

“There are a series of facial recognition tests and tasks that can be performed, as well as imaging tests such as MRI that can be used to help identify any changes in the brain.”  

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