In our Soul Patch episode, we feature an excerpt from an event at the World Science Festival, where Robert joins artist Chuck Close and neuroscientist Oliver Sacks on stage to talk about the simple, and sometimes quirky, ways in which they deal with face blindness, a neurological condition that prevents the two men from recognizing the faces of other people.
In some cases, their work-arounds involve memorizing different people's gaits, their tones of voice, even their dogs (but don't let us spoil it -- go listen!).
But we were wondering -- just how rare is this phenomenon? It turns out, to a greater or lesser degree, we all struggle with face recognition. In fact, by some estimates, two percent of the world's population suffers from face blindness, which is about one person in every 50, according to MIT researcher Garga Chatterjee. One in 50! That number blew our minds. To get a sense for what Oliver and Chuck and others with prosopagnosia go through (and for some people, this even means not recognizing their children, or their partners) -- and to test your own face recognition skills -- watch the following video to participate in a live, interactive quiz led by Robert.
And we must give this word of caution: doing poorly or well doesn't indicate definitively whether or not you are face blind. However, "if a person knows about [the celebrity] very extensively but can't recognize some of these faces, then he/she might want to take a more standardized face recognition test," says Chatterjee. For a more conclusive, scientific test, head over to the Prosopagnosia Research Center's website and find out what percentage of face-blind you might be, or check out the Cambridge Face Memory Test.
For more on prosopagnosia, check out the full conversation between Robert, Oliver, and Chuck, from the 2010 World Science Festival.