Face Blindness: When everyone is a stranger (60 Minutes)

A person who suffers from prosopagnosia—or face blindness—has difficulty recognizing faces.  They have trouble identifying faces that are very familiar to them, such as their spouse or children, or even their own face in the mirror.

In an extended segment on CBS’s 60 Minutes, Bradley Duchaine, associate professor of psychological and brain sciences, sat down with correspondent Lesley Stahl to demonstrate what a person with face blindness experiences.

He showed her a series of well-known faces, turned upside down, and asked her to identify them. Stahl could not identify any of the faces, not even that of her own daughter. Duchaine explains that what Stahl experienced is similar to what people with face blindness struggle with. “There are parts. There are eyes. There’s a mouth. But you just can’t put it together,” he said.

Duchaine's research, on how the brains of people with prosopagnosia function differently than those of normal subjects, was recently featured on VPR as well.

Watch part 1 and part 2 of the story, which ran on 3/18/12 on 60 Minutes.