Prosopagnosia - Face Blindness: Background information when reading Holding Up the Universe

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Holding Up the Universe

by Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
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  • Published:
    Oct 2016, 400 pages

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Donna Chavez

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Beyond the Book:
Prosopagnosia - Face Blindness

ProsopagnosiaJack Masselin, the young man in Jennifer Niven's Holding Up the Universe, suffers from prosopagnosia, commonly called face blindness. It's a neurological disorder that affects the way people perceive faces – or more precisely, the way they can't. What that means is that Jack cannot even recognize his own face – as distinct from anybody else's – in a mirror. When a woman walks into his bedroom at home he has to look for clues – clothing, hairstyle and color, voice – to be able to tell whether it's his mother or some other woman.

Prosopagnosia (prosopon for face, agnosia for not knowing) is a disorder that affects as much as 2% of the general population, but estimates vary. So far there is no cure, which is not surprising because research has been sparse – there are only about 100 documented case studies worldwide in medical literature – and it has been difficult to find prosopagnosiacs on which to conduct research. Unless ...

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