Those old familiar faces.Those old familiar faces
Some people, primarily certain victims of Alzheimer's disease Alzheimer's disease (ăls`hī'mərz, ôls–), degenerative disease of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex that leads to atrophy of the brain and senile dementia. , amnesia amnesia (ămnē`zhə), [Gr.,=forgetfulness], condition characterized by loss of memory for long or short intervals of time. It may be caused by injury, shock, senility, severe illness, or mental disease. , strokes or herpes encephalitis herpes encephalitis
Encephalitis caused by the herpes simplex virus. , also suffer from prosopagnosia prosopagnosia /proso·pag·no·sia/ (-pag-no´se-ah) inability to recognize faces due to damage to the underside of both occipital lobes.
n. , a brain disorder that renders its victims incapable of visually recognizing the faces of people they know--including their family and friends. Many prosopagnosiacs claim they rely upon other cues, such as voices, in order to identify people.
Researchers at the University of Iowa Not to be confused with Iowa State University.
The first faculty offered instruction at the University in March 1855 to students in the Old Mechanics Building, situated where Seashore Hall is now. In September 1855, the student body numbered 124, of which, 41 were women. College of Medicine in Iowa City Iowa City, city (1990 pop. 59,738), seat of Johnson co., E Iowa, on both sides of the Iowa River; founded 1839 as the capital of Iowa Territory, inc. 1853. Among its manufactures are foam rubber, animal feed, paper, and food products. The city is the seat of the Univ. have now found that the nervous system of a prosopagnosia patient does respond to familiar faces, even though the patient isn't consciously aware of it.
Daniel Tranel and Antonio R. Damasio report in the June 21 SCIENCE that they measured electrical charges on the skin of two prosopagnosia patients while the patients were each shown 50 photographs of faces, eight of which were faces of people the patients knew: family members, close friends or famous people. When the patients were shown the photographs of the people they knew, the electrical conductivity of their skin increased, even though they claimed the faces were unfamiliar. They did not respond in this way to unfamiliar faces.
The nervous system responses may mean, the researchers say, that even though the patients' ability to activate memories associated with the faces has been destroyed, the brain's records --both of faces and of associated memories--are intact.
"Our brains store different types of memories in different places,' Damasio told SCIENCE NEWS. Images of faces, he says, are stored separately from the memories associated with them. But people with prosopagnosia, which is caused by twin lesions in the part of the brain believed to control the central visual system, can't activate the associated memories, he says. And these memories must be activated, or "brought into the conscious mind,' he adds, "in order for us to consciously experience visual recognition.'