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BU psychology lecturer on face blindness

19 September 2012

The Daily Mail had a double page feature on research done by BU psychology lecturer Dr Sarah Bate into a condition called prosopagnosia, more commonly known as face blindness.

It is estimated that around one million people in Britain suffer from the little-known condition, which in extreme cases means that people cannot recognise those closest to them, or even themselves in the mirror.

The condition is caused by an impairment in a part of the brain called the fusiformgyrus – which can be caused by neurological damage but is often present at birth.

Dr Bate recently won funding to establish a national centre to study the condition, and more than 700 people have come forward to be tested as part of her research.

She told reporter Julie McCaffrey: “We now estimate that at least two per cent of the population are face blind to some degree – and it affects women and men equally.

“But it is not something GPs will know about and there’s a huge lack of support and understanding in schools and work places.”

Famous sufferers of the condition include businessman and Dragon’s Den star Duncan Bannatyne and playwright Tom Stoppard.

Dr Bate also put the Daily Mail in touch with case studies of people who have face blindness, including Sandra O’Connor, who struggles to pick out her husband in a crowd and does not recognise herself in photographs.

She said she has no friends as a result of the condition.

“People get quite annoyed when I ask their name for the fifth or sixth time, and are offended when I ignore them after we’ve been getting on well,” she told the Daily Mail.

“I’m never aware if they blank me back because I haven’t a clue who they are, so now I’ve given up trying.”

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