Let’s Play “Name that Agnosia!”

Agnosia (deriv: “agnosis:” loss or lack of knowledge) has been “on my mind” (sorry, terrible pun) lately.  Actually, that’s perhaps a bit of an oxymoron?

Anyway, I was speaking with someone recently who said that they had some problems with remembering people’s faces and names.  Well, I think we can all relate to that–even NTs.  I know it takes me at least anywhere from five to 10 times to get most people sorted out regarding either! However, for this person, it was an ongoing issue.

There is a name for this, at least as far as the facial issue. It’s called Prosopagnosia. I know. Pretty fancy a term, huh? It’s been linked to the Autistic Spectrum, however, Spectrum, Spectrum…manifestation, manifestation…  Not to mention, brain injuries, and possibly genetics? See citation in above link (Ref. #1.)  Which does kind of bring us back in a semi-circular way to the Spectrum.  Granted, no genetic link proven yet.

This is not my issue, however.  Especially since my facial (and name) recognition issues certainly don’t fall without any sort of reasonable “memory deficit” timelines or variables.  The only reason I wanted to bring the above to your attention is because I am frustrated! How come the facial recognition one gets a long and hard to say and even “remember” name, itself!

Because you see, my issue is with hearing.  Yes, something to do with auditory functioning.  Now, before we get to my “possible -agnosia,” let’s look a bit at how auditory processing works and some other issues that might be going on…

Oh, and wait…I may get a nice, competitive, fancy-pants name myself! How does “Sensorineural Hearing Loss,” grab you? I know.  It’s not nearly as good, is it?

Now, onto how we hear.  I’ll try and keep this as simple and brief as possible.

“Sound” is not what you “hear.”  That’s actually the end result.  Sound is vibration.  That vibration is energy.  Picture a graph that looks all wavy and goes up and down like a roller coaster.  No loops though! *laughing* That represents the sounds waves.  The can vary in frequency meaning the waves cycle in time.  They are measured in hertz.  How you interpret them is by pitch. I think it is easy to understand that lower frequency waves vibrate more slowly in the duration of time than higher frequency waves.

Moving on to amplitude. We don’t hear these vibrations (or sound) in a vacuum.  They move through air and alter the air molecules.  This is what amplitude means. This is variable upon the above.  Also, we hear complex sounds/waves over different periods of time/frequencies so overall, this is how we interpret how loud things are.

So how about our ears and how we hear? There are three parts to the ear: outer, middle, inner! There, not too complicated!

The outer ear, well, looks like your ear! The external part helps direct sound to where it needs to travel.  Deeper inside that, is the ear canal that leads to your tympanic membrane or your eardrum in the middle ear.  The ear canal contains most of all that gooey “ear wax” and some hairs that do serve a purpose–keeping junk out of your ears!

The tympanic membrane of the middle ear directs vibrations to the three bones–colloquially named “the hammer, anvil, stirrup!” Simply based upon shape? Although I never thought they looked like that! And yes, we have bones in our ears.

Alright, Anatomy and Physiology Class is almost over! The inner ear.  This is how we finally “hear” what we hear.  To quickly end all of this, the inner ear sends the vibrations to the brain where they can be neurologically processed.  Voila! Hey, I heard that!

So, what I was curious about regarding myself is, why I have difficulty distinguishing some sounds while in conjunction with others? Is it some kind of “-agnosia?”

Well, some issues regarding basic hearing.  Aging? I don’t think I’m that old (yet) but there could be some loss.  Still, I don’t think that is an issue.  Inner ear infections! Chronic as a kid and one infection in my late 20s where my ear started bleeding! Then I went partially deaf.  Burst of my ear drum? I was actually sent for auditory testing to make sure there was no permanent loss.  Still, some loss overall? Chronic Tinnitus?

Oh…wait a second! I may not need to go any further here! My closest “-agnosia” was perhaps Auditory Agnosia but it didn’t seem to fit. And then there was Sensorineural Hearing Loss which I was heading towards with the inner ear problems.

I think I have it here though! Take a look at this.  Auditory Processing Disorder.  And it’s comorbid with AD(H)D, Autism and Asperger’s!

Ah, it feels good to make a nice, geeky post like this again. It’s been a while!


  1. I’m pretty sure I have some form of APD. Holy hell, I sometime have to ask people three or four times because I just can’t “hear” what they’re saying. I can physically hear them, but I can’t understand them. I rely a lot on lip reading and context to help me make sense of language. When I’m home, I watch TV with the captioning on because it’s easier for me to read in conjunction with listening. Watching TV where the sound and the video is slightly off drives me batty.


  2. Hi katm, interesting. I have also felt the same way about looking at peoples’ mouths when they speak to gain a better understanding of what they are saying. For me, I think it also falls in line with not being able to make eye contact at times, too.

    Do you have issues with eye contact?

    That is also very interesting about the captions for television. You see, I would be the exact opposite for that because I think my ADD brain wouldn’t be able to concentrate well enough. I wouldn’t be able to keep up the focus. However, I definitely agree with the annoyance of sound and video not being in sync.

    You also reminded me of something else re: watching television. Sometimes I have been so overstimulated I haven’t even been able to make eye contact with the characters on the screen! *laughing*

    Wow…our brains can certainly be something else, can’t they?


  3. Sometimes I wonder if my brain is really a brain………..

    Oh well.

    Yeah, I definitely have trouble with eye contact. I’m probably somewhere on the PDD spectrum too. Aspie maybe? I dunno. I do a lot better with online relationships than I do with in person ones.


  4. Hi katm, I know. Well, I would propose to you that at least you actually have something in your head. The majority of the time, I think don’t think there’s anything in mine.

    Except, perhaps, a sweeping vortex that sucks the rest of me straight down into hell.

    If not that, well, there must be some other reason why I always end up there *rolls eyes*

    Sure, it sounds like you could be on the Spectrum. Who knows? But enough pieces of the pie will get you into the Bakery!

    Another interesting comment is that you seem to do better in relationships online than with people in person. That one made me think a little.

    I guess for me, a relationship is a relationship. Online, offline…it all boils down to the same thing. I think I may be headed off into practising some sort of odd Philosophical Reductionism or something as opposed to Developmental Disorders, here.

    However, I can handle both in person or online, I guess.


  5. raginggenius

    You crack me up :)

    I am coming up on the Manic side of life, that’s where I get in the most trouble!! Haven’t started studdering yet so I haven’t peaked yet. Ramble, ramble, ramble, yak,yak,yak :)


  6. raginggenius

    I see the depression help buttons, but where is the Manic Moment buttons. AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!


  7. Hey raginggenius…uh oh…be careful. Try not to get in trouble.

    Thanks for saying that I crack you up. I hope it’s not just because you’re starting to swing a bit high there! Do I still crack you up when you’re feeling stable?

    Again, you try and be good and not get yourself into any trouble.

    Take care,


  8. raginggenius

    Of course, I think I can think straight most of the time. He heheheheheeh.


  9. Hi raginggenius. You are too funny. Even if I am nowhere close to any kind of cycling spree, I have serious doubts about ever thinking straight!

    Just kidding. Let’s say some days are better than others? Like you wrote: “…most of the time.”


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