Last Friday saw the second annual ‘Prosopagnosia (Face blind) Open Day at Birkbeck, University of London. I was delighted to again receive an invitation to talk about my research at the event, along with Dr Kirsten Dalrymple (Dartmouth College, USA) and Professor Martin Eimer (Birkbeck, UK). However, the highlight of the day was listening to the stories and thoughts of the people with face blindness who attended the day. The public engagement event was designed to have an initial ‘closed session’ which was only accessible to people with face blindness and the researchers working with these people, whereas the media were invited in for an ‘open session’ in the afternoon. In the earlier session, us researchers were privileged to be offered a unique insight into the everyday experiences of people with face blindness, in addition to receiving their feedback about research participation and particular issues that we might like to explore further.
We heard some very emotional and sometimes heart-breaking first hand accounts of what it is like to live with face blindness, and all the delegates clearly took a lot away from the day. I also invited some other members of the Centre for Face Processing Disorders to accompany me to the event, and we all agreed the experience was invaluable for us as researchers. Here’s some reflections on the day from our group:
Dr Nicola Gregory (Postdoctoral Research Fellow):
“The main think I took away with me was the importance of remembering that when we as researchers engage with people with prosopagnosia we must always be mindful of the impact that this condition has on people’s lives. We may spend a lot of time reading about case studies in academic journals and thinking in terms of cognitive processes which may or may not be deficient, but meeting and chatting to people with prosopagnosia and hearing their stories was a wonderful reminder that ultimately prosopagnosia affects people, not just their cognitive functioning.”
Amanda Bussunt (final year BSc Psychology student completing her dissertation in the Centre for Face Processing Disorders):