Fascinating article in Wired (Nov. 2006 issue–yes I am catching up:) on Prosopagnosia, or face blindness: the inability to recognize faces, including one’s own, to various degrees. The article notes that online groups of people with the condition has enabled researchers to start to get a handle on what causes this condition. So far, they’ve discovered that there’s a particular part of the brain that is responsible for processing faces, which may be broken down further into color, gender, etc. Seems to lend weight to the “a priori categories” theory of the mind and against the “tabula rasa” view.
I have had a mild obsession with neurological conditions since reading The Mind of a Mnemonist by Alexander Luria many years ago. It’s about a patient of Luria’s who had perfect recall of nearly endless series of random numbers, items, etc., but couldn’t hold down a job, except as a Vaudeville act. The patient had Synesthesia, which enabled him to associate many more characteristics to the objects he was trying to remember than non-synesthetes can (for example, the sound of the number 9 or the flavor of the letter C), which aided his ability to memorize, but didn’t completely explain it.
My good friend Nikki Sullivan also has interesting things to say on various neuroscience-related topics as does Steve Saletta, also a good friend, and company over at Neuroeconomics, though blogging there has been pretty sparse of late.