Prosopagnosia: Why Some are Blind to Faces

By: Jordan Gaines Lewis, 3rd year PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Program

ProsopagnosiaA few years ago, I had an hour-long conversation with one of my college professors in his office discussing his course that had just wrapped up. We veered off-topic toward the end of our talk, broaching the subjects of his grad school days, cooking hobby, and my blogging.

Less than an hour later, I was loitering around the college’s entrance in my coat, ready to go home for the day. I spotted Dr. L locking up his office and gave him a wave.

He eyed me strangely and walked a couple steps closer before returning the greeting. “Oh, didn’t recognize you in the coat. You were wearing green earlier. Have a good night, Jordan.”

It would have been a puzzling encounter if I didn’t already know about his strange affliction.

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Making Mirrors: Our Brain’s Reaction to Familiar Movements

By: Amanda White, Research Technologist in the Department of Psychiatry

Serena_Williams_US_Open_2013The Philadelphia Eagles are an exciting NFL team to watch because you never know which team is going to show up: the one that puts up 30+ points, or the one that loses pitifully to the New York Giants.

Watching a tennis match is just as exciting as watching a football game, but I find the experience much more vivid. As a tennis player, I recall the feel of new rubber tape on my racket, the short “pop” sound of a volley, and the sharp smell of a fresh tennis ball. During the Australian Open, I watched Serena bounce the ball a few times before looking across the net to her opponent and I felt the same anticipation before I serve in a match. As the point progressed, I felt like I was the one hitting forehand after forehand, and finally a backhanded winner at the net.

My own experiences seem to make watching tennis quite different from watching other sports. So what happens in our brains when we observe athletes of our own sport, or dancers of our own style?

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