Symptoms consistent with face blindness or prosopagnosia have been reported for the first time in a 28-year-old woman who had contracted Covid-19 in early 2020.
Prosopagnosia is a condition where you struggle to recognize faces or can’t interpret facial expressions and cues. Annie, a service representative and a portrait painter, began experiencing face blindness when, in June 2020, she was spending time with her family for the first time since contracting Covid-19.
Annie noticed that she was unable to recognise her father or visually distinguish him from her uncle. “My dad’s voice came out of a stranger’s face,” she told the researchers. Sharing that she is now relying heavily on people’s voices for identification purposes, Annie said that she was previously able to draw a face and only look at a reference photo every 15–30 minutes.
These deficits caused her primary care provider to send her to seek care in an Emergency Department. At the ED, a CT scan revealed no active bleeds in her brain, and she was discharged.
When Annie was subjected to a detailed study, she scored poorly on all four facial recognition tests used to diagnose prosopagnosia. She also reported 'substantial' deficits in her navigation abilities, which frequently co-occur with prosopagnosia, according to a study report, published in the journal Cortex.
To explore whether other people experienced similar problems, the researchers surveyed 54 individuals who had long Covid about their neuropsychological abilities. A majority of them reported a decline in visual recognition and navigation abilities.
According to the researchers, the findings of the study indicate that Covid-19 may cause severe and selective neuropsychological impairments 'similar to deficits seen following brain damage' and that these problems are not uncommon among patients with long Covid.
"The victim struggled to find her way through a grocery store, locate her parked car without help or remember directions to frequently visited locations", the study report mentioned. "Results indicate that Covid-19 can produce selective neuropsychological impairment. High-level visual impairments are also not uncommon in people with long Covid," the report said.