The Brain On Blindness

An Understanding On How Being Blind Affects The Brain

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If a person is born blind or becomes blind sometime during their life they do not have the use of the visual cortex portion of the brain that many take for granted. While blindness can be a hindrance it does not mean a person has to live a life of dependency and limitations. The brain adapts to the loss of site by enhancing the other senses enabling an individual to adjust and live independently. Remember that life does not stop with blindness.
Understanding Blindness and the Brain (Brian Wandell, Stanford University)

How Does The Brain Adapt?

In blindness, the visual cortex region of the brain becomes smaller than it would have been if the person was sighted. Due to the brain's plasticity it will compensate for the loss of sight by having the other regions such as the auditory cortex and the olfactory region to become larger and stronger (Blindness..., 2009). The loss of sight triggers the brain is able to reorganize and adjust itself allowing the other senses to take over, this action is known as cross-modal neuroplasticity (Bates, 2012). With these heightened senses a person is able to do things that are normally done with sight. Reading is done with touch as a person runs their fingers over braille, items are discovered by their feel and smell, and information is collected by smell, touch, sound, and/or taste allowing a person to learn and live with the absence of sight.
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Helping the Blind to See

There have been advancements in the medical and technological fields with the determination to find a way to help people who are born blind and those that lose their sight later in life. Visual information is received by the bionic retina implant from a mini camera that is attached to glasses, these images are turned into electrical pulses and sent wirelessly to electrodes that are attached to the retina. These electrodes stimulate the remaining cells which then send the information to the brain. (Walsh, 2015). This advancement has already given many people the chance to see the world that they either have never had the opportunity to see or has lost the ability to. While this option is available there are many people who are blind that have no interest in gaining any type of sight back. They have learned to live with the loss of sight and have found fulfillment in their lives.
Bionic Eye Cures Blindness

References

Blindness....(2009). Blindness causes structural brain changes, implying brain can re-organize itself to adapt. Science Daily. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091118143259.htm.


Bates, M. (2012). The brain rewires itself to boost the remaining senses. Scientific America. Retrieved from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/superpowers-for-the-blind-and-deaf/.


Walsh, F. (2015). Bionic eye implant world first. BBC News. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/health-33571412.