Friday, January 07, 2005


This is an online journal about a condition known as topographic agnosia.

What is topographic agnosia?
Topographic agnosia can be thought of as a neurologically based impairment in finding one's way around. People with topographic agnosia are not able to make maps of geographic space in their heads. As a consequence of this, topographical agnosics have an extremely poor sense of direction and tend to get lost very easily.

The phrase "topographic agnosia" means "place blindness". Topographic agnosia goes by many names. Among them are: getting lost easily, having an impaired sense of direction, being place blind, topographic disorientation, spatial disorientation, and topographic amnesia.

What causes topographic agnosia?
Some cases of topographic agnosia are acquired through neurological injury or stroke, and others are congenital (i.e. born with it). In either case, topographic agnosia is thought to result from damage to the "place processing module" in the brain, located in the right occipital cortex.

Comorbid conditions:
CAPD (Central Auditory Processing Disorder), Asperger's syndrome, prosopagnosia (an impairment in recognizing human faces), and nonverbal learning disabilities tend to co-occur with topographic agnosia, because they all affect closely related parts of the brain. In particular, the brain module that deals with faces is known to be located near the place
module, so it would make sense that prosopagnosia commonly occurs with topographic agnosia. If I find the link to the study relating the brain's face and place modules, I will post it here.

In this online journal, I plan to post news and information relevant to topographic agnosia, such as adaptive strategies for living with the condition, and information about assistive technologies, such as GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) systems.

Topographic agnosia is relatively uncommon, and not well known. I hope this site can help people understand the condition better.