March 14, 2023 | 3:52 p.m.
A new report examines the link between the long COVID-19 and “face blindness”.
After a bout of COVID-19, Annie couldn’t recognize her father’s face, even though she’s a part-time portrait painter.
“My father’s voice came out of a stranger’s face,” the case study, identified only by first name for privacy reasons, told the researchers.
Annie’s experience with ‘face blindness’ is now thought to be the result of a long COVID-19, which has been linked to other neurological effects including brain fog, memory problems and loss. of smell and taste.
Annie, 28, is the first and only known person to have face blindness – what experts call prosopagnosia – following a COVID-19 infection, according to a new peer-reviewed study from Dartmouth College published in the medical journal Cortex.
“Faces are like water in my head,” the customer service rep and part-time artist told the doctors.
Face blindness can also be caused by stroke, traumatic brain injury, or certain neurological conditions, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
In some cases, it can be present at birth and it can be hereditary.
The problem first surfaced for Annie when, two months after recovering from COVID-19, she met her family in a restaurant – but walked past them twice without recognizing them.
She must now rely on voices to recognize friends and family right in front of her.
She also lives with navigation issues: getting around to her favorite grocery store is now difficult, she struggles to find her car in a parking lot, and she sometimes finds she’s driving in the wrong direction on once-familiar routes.
“The combination of prosopagnosia and navigational deficits that Annie had is something that caught our attention because the two deficits often go together after someone has had brain damage or developmental deficits,” said Brad Duchaine of the Social Perception Lab in Dartmouth. College in a statement.
Duchaine and other researchers published Annie’s case study in the journal Cortex. “Our study highlights the types of perceptual issues related to facial recognition and navigation that may be caused by COVID-19,” Duchaine said. “This is something people should be aware of, especially doctors and other healthcare professionals.”
Last year, President Joe Biden’s administration announced a long research push into COVID-19 as it is estimated to affect up to one in three people who have had the coronavirus.
“The administration recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn new members into the disability community and has had a significant impact on people with disabilities,” the White House said in a statement at the time.
The initiative is focused on improving care and support, improving education and awareness, and advancing research, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said during a briefing. a briefing from the COVID-19 response team.
“Long COVID is real and there’s still so much we don’t know about it,” Becerra added. “Millions of Americans may struggle with lingering health effects ranging from more noticeable things like difficulty breathing or irregular heartbeat to less apparent but potentially serious brain or mental health-related conditions. “