What is prosopagnosia? Long COVID may cause face blindness: Study

Xavier Roger


Early in the pandemic, a 28-year-old customer service representative and portrait painter caught COVID-19.

She had a high fever for a few days and trouble breathing. Her sense of smell and taste disappeared. But by mid-April 2020, she had recovered enough to start working from home.

It wasn’t until June, when she saw her family for the first time since her illness, that she realized she’d lost something else. She could no longer recognize her own father or distinguish him from her uncle.

“My dad’s voice came out of a stranger’s face,” she later told researchers.

It’s not clear how many people have developed face blindness after having COVID-19. But the woman, whom researchers identified only as “Annie” to protect her privacy, was one of more than 50 long COVID patients who reported to Dartmouth College researchers in a new study they were having trouble identifying faces after their infection.

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Some people are born with face blindness, called prosopagnosia, while others lose the ability to identify faces from brain damage, typically caused by a stroke or brain injury.

Although facial recognition ability lies along a spectrum, another recent study found that more than 1% of people struggle to recognize even those they’ve met many times.


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