Oct 18, 2010

WORD OF THE WEEK: Prosopagnosia

Summary: This week's WOW vocabulary word features a common aspect among those on the autism spectrum.

Can you imagine waking up in the morning, stumbling into the bathroom to shower and not recognizing the person in the mirror? This is the experience of people with extreme prosopagnosia, a medical condition sometimes called face blindness.

It's asserted that people who have the condition, often known as prosopagnosics, generally have difficulty recognizing places, objects and/or emotions, too. Particularly, they have a hard time recognizing emotions as they are displayed on the face or in body language. Sound familiar? It should. It describes people on the autism spectrum with HFA (High Functioning Autism) or Asperger Syndrome—all part of this week's featured brain challenge.

The word itself was coined in 1947 in a research paper by German neurologist Joachim Bodamer, who concocted it by combining one Greek word, prosopon (or face) with the medical term for recognition impairment, agnosia. Interestingly enough, agnosia is the combo of two more Greek words: gnosis for knowledge and a for the negative, as in "not known." The American pronunciation is PRAH - so - pag - NO - zhya.

Click here to test your own recognition of faces.

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2010

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