Can you imagine your life where nothing to the left exists; where everything looks grey and dead, where you cannot recognize your own reflect in the mirror? There are people in this world that live their lives this way every single day. These are all examples of the bizarre disorder known as Agnosia. According to acnr.com, Agnosia is a perceptual disorder caused by brain trauma, resulting in the inability to recognize what people hear, see or feel. Agnosia is not a memory loss; it’s a rare disorder, affecting 1% of all stroke and Traumatic Brain Injury victims. I want to share with you 3 types of agnosia that I find especially interesting.
First let’s look at Prosopagnosia or “visual Agnosia”. Visual Agnosia makes the person unable to distinguish faces. Introduction to Neurogenic disorders states that faces can only be recognized after seeing the body or hearing their voice. A common trait is the inability to recognize one’s own reflection. If they see themselves in a mirror, they will often comment that there is a man/woman staring at them, when in fact it is their own face. They cannot distinguish between men, women, race or age. In one particular case, a sheep farmer couldn’t distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar faces of men he knew but could distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar sheep. To view a video of woman with Prosopagnosia, follow the following link, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwCrxomPbtY . Agnosia is very interesting for us but for the people who live with it, it can be devastating. Let’s look at color Agnosia.
Color Agnosia is known as Achromatopsia. These individuals are not color blind, nor do they have vision problems, the brain does not process color correctly. To people with Color Agnosia, everything and everyone is a grayish-greenish tint. In the book “The man who mistook his wife for a hat,” one patient reports severe depression because it is always nighttime, food looks rotten, even divorced his wife because he was so repulsed by her rotten looking skin. Can you imagine how life would be without color?
Last I want to tell you about Neglect. Neglect is a type of Agnosia in which they person doesn’t acknowledge anything on the left. You will never see this happen on the right side. It’s caused by damage to a specific area in the right hemisphere, therefore it presents on the left side of the body. Women will only put makeup on the right side of their face. Men will only shave the facial hair on the right side of the face. These individuals even eat food located only on the right side of the plate. If in a wheelchair, patients often run over their left arm without ever acknowledging the pain. Tests reveal that a doctor may raise the patients left arm and show it to them. The patient will not know where it came from and often say that it is the doctors other arm. This remains true even when the patient and doctor are of two different races.
Let’s conclude with a review. I told you about Agnosia, a sensory processing disorder. Afterward I gave you three examples of Agnosia; Prosopagnosia is face blindness, Color Agnosia creates a grey-green tint, Left sided neglect causes the person to ignore their left side.There are several types that I didn’t discuss but I encourage you to learn about them. Thank you.
Ghadialia, Eric. “Cognitive Primer.” Agnosia. 5th. 4. Liverpool: ACNR, Print.
H., Robert. Introduction to neurogenic communication disorders. Mosby Inc, 2007. Print
W., Oliver. The man who mistook his wife for a hat and other clinical tales. Touchstone, 1998. Print.