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HomescienceProsopometamorphopsia: Discover the rare disorder that causes patients to see "devilish" faces.

Prosopometamorphopsia: Discover the rare disorder that causes patients to see “devilish” faces.

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For the first time, researchers have shown how people with… prosopometamorphopsia (PMO), a disorder that causes changes in the perception of faces, sometimes showing “demonic” appearances, and the perception of the faces of others.

Published in March 2024 in the magazine The scalpelOnly 75 cases have been reported so far. This extremely rare neurological disorder is not well understoodAlthough it has been the subject of several investigations, it is often confused with schizophrenia. It is characterized by changes in the patient's visual perception, as he begins to see distorted faces.

The real face is on the left and the distortions seen by the patient are on the right. (Source: A. Melo et al./The Lancet/Reproduction)

The types of perceived distortions, such as shape, size, color and texture, vary from case to case. According to reports, some of those infected see twisted and dislocated eyes and noses, while others see cartoon faces, and there are also those who see frightening appearances.

Most patients cannot accurately evaluate the illustration of what they see because of this Recognize distortions in their own representation. However, researchers at Dartmouth College in the US discovered a PMO patient who only saw the distortions when seeing the face in person.

Abnormalities seen by someone with PMO

Another example of facial disfigurement reported by a patient.  (Source: The Lancet/Reproduction)
Another example of facial disfigurement reported by a patient. (Source: A. Melo et al./The Lancet/Reproduction)

Victor Sharé has been suffering from prosopagnosia for nearly three years, and sees demonic faces because of the condition, but only if he is face to face with someone. To take advantage of this, the authors took photos of the volunteers and displayed them on a computer, at the same time as the man saw the real person.

Using specific software, scientists modified the images based on the patient's descriptions. The 58-year-old envisions rectangular features in the eyes, mouth and ears, as well as deformities in the chin, cheeks and forehead. The disorder does not affect your vision when looking at objects.

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“Through this process, we were able to visualize the patient’s perception of facial deformities in real time,” Antonio Mello, a doctoral student at Dartmouth and co-author of the study, said in a statement. He further stated that the changes in Sharah were not accompanied by delusional beliefs about the people seen.

What causes prosopometamorphopsia?

Brain damage may be the cause of the disorder.  (Source: Getty Images / Reproduction)
Brain damage may be the cause of the disorder. (Source: Getty Images)

Although the causes of PMO are unknown, It is suspected to be linked to abnormalities or damage in areas of the brain where visual processing occurs. In some of the cases studied, the abnormalities appeared after migraines, traumatic brain injuries or strokes, but in others they appeared without clear causes.

Volunteer for this research He suffered a head injury 15 years ago, which damaged the left side of his brain. Furthermore, he had been exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning months before the vision changes became apparent, conditions that may have contributed to the problem.

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