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Do I Know You? : A Faceblind Reporter's Journey into the Science of Sight, Memory, and Imagination - Sadie Dingfelder

Do I Know You?

A Faceblind Reporter's Journey into the Science of Sight, Memory, and Imagination

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Published: 25th June 2024

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An award-winning science writer discovers she's faceblind, and investigates the neuroscience of sight, memory, and imagination — while solving some long-running mysteries about her own life.

Science writer Sadie Dingfelder has always known that she's a little quirky. But while she's made some strange mistakes over the years, it's not until she accosts a stranger in a grocery store (who she thinks is her husband) that she realizes something is amiss.

With a mixture of curiosity and dread, Dingfelder starts contacting neuroscientists and lands herself in scores of studies. In the course of her nerdy midlife crisis, she discovers that she is emphatically not neurotypical. She has prosopagnosia (faceblindness), stereoblindness, aphantasia (an inability to create mental imagery), and a condition called Severely Deficient Autobiographical Memory.

What Dingfelder learns about the brain captivates her. What she learns about the places where her brain falls short forces her to reinterpret major events from her past and grieve for losses she didn't even know she'd had.

As Dingfelder learns to see herself more clearly, she also discovers a vast well of hidden neurodiversity in the world at large. There are so many different flavors of human consciousness, and most of us just assume that ours is the norm. Can you visualize? Do you have an inner monologue? Are you always 100% sure whether you know someone or not? Do you know your left from your right? If you can perform any of these mental feats, you may be surprised to learn that many people — including Dingfelder — can't.

A lively blend of personal narrative and popular science, Do I Know You? is the story of one unusual mind's attempt to understand itself — and a fascinating exploration of the remarkable breadth of human experience.

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