Bizarre patient: following Covid-19, she develops “face blindness”

Today in weird patienta young woman who forgets the face of her loved ones after contracting Covid-19.

Annie, a 28-year-old American, contracted Covid-19 in March 2020 and since then her life has changed. ” The first time I met Annie, she told me that she was no longer able to recognize the faces of her family members. », says Marie-Luise Kieselerdoctoral student at Social Perception Lab located in Dartmouth, a city in New Hampshire in the United States. The young woman remembers the day when she had planned to meet her family at the restaurant – the first time since she had contracted Covid-19 – and that she passed by the table reserved by her relatives without recognizing them . ” It was as if my father’s voice came from a stranger “recalls the patient.

Prosopagnosia, a strange disease much more common than you think

Forget the faces of loved ones

The deleterious effects of Covid-19 on the brain and cognition are now well documented: loss of smell and taste, memory and concentration problems or even the impression of being in a constant mental fog. But Annie’s case is unique in the medical literature. The Covid-19 would have caused in her a “blindness of the faces” or prosopagnosia.

Annie’s prosopagnosia is accompanied by very disabling orientation problems on a daily basis. She is forced to use a cue on Google Maps to find his car in the parking lot and frequently gets lost between supermarket stalls. ” This concomitance is probably due to the fact that these two capacities depend on neighboring regions in the temporal lobe. », specifies Brad Duchaine, author of the study published in Cortex with Marie-Luise Kieseler.

An unprecedented consequence of Covid-19

The doctors used several tests to confirm Annie’s prosopagnosia. During the Cambridge Face Memory Test, a patient memorizes the faces of six people and then has to recognize them among other unknown faces. On average, cognitively healthy participants correctly recognize 80% of faces; Annie, she only recognized 56%. His other cognitive abilities – apart from orientation – are normal, even above average for voice recognition; the doctors therefore assume that it is Annie’s visual system that has been affected by Covid-19.

Many patients with long Covid have reported a decrease in their cognitive abilities after infection, but prosopagnosia remains an extremely rare consequence of Covid-19. Moreover, the researchers who took care of Annie are trying to find other patients in the same situation as her.

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