For some people, face blindness may just be “if I could pay more attention, I would be better at recognizing faces,” for others, however, it is a cognitive disorder. The patients can’t recognize faces, including those of close friends and family members and even their own faces.
Since face blindness is related to the entire brain network, scientists are now trying to use the understanding of face blindness to help autism patients who also have difficulty in recognizing faces.
Autistic patients and stroke patients
Autism can be easily investigated through individual symptoms. For example, autistic kids usually don't look at the faces in a video. And they may look at only one part like the mouth.
Then, the research team wanted to study a group of people who became face-blind after a stroke. The specific lesions in their brain are easy to observe. If the researchers can find the same area as that in autistic kids, they can understand face blindness and autism better.
Mapping brain networks
The researchers studied 44 people from 19 studies who had face blindness after a stroke and created a large-scale map of brain networks.
They found that 29 lesion locations involved the right fusiform face area (FFA), which is previously thought to be linked with face blindness. And other 15 were functionally connected to the right FFA. Surprisingly, all 44 involved four additional areas belonging to left frontoparietal control network.
In other words, face blindness is related to two distinct brain networks. But It's not yet clear that which specific area causes face blindness and autism.
The researchers are now planning to study children with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), a genetic syndrome that often includes autism and face blindness and map their brain networks. This can help them better understand the relationship between brain networks and face blindness as well as autism.
If scientists can identify a key area in the brain, they are possible to find ways to control its activity and thus treat face blindness and autism.