Blindness and Brain Structure

Looking after someone whom is blind.

Blindness affects the structure of the developing brain.

Many of us watch amazing people, such a Stevie Wonder and ask - how does he do that? I can not play the piano with sight, let alone without. It seems blind individuals manage to exercise an amazing amount of information about the world around them from their senses.

The ability to do this requires their brains to do some reorganizing. Science as proven that this is exactly what happens to the blind brain, "visual regions of the brain were smaller in volume in blind individuals than in sighted ones. However, for non-visual areas, the trend was reversed -- they grew larger in the blind. This, the researchers say, suggests that the brains of blind individuals are compensating for the reduced volume in areas normally devoted to vision" (ScienceDaily, 2009).

Brain development of a normal individual to a blind individual.

Brain imaging has shown that visual cortex is employed to carry out tactile tasks, such as Braille reading, only in individuals who became blind before adolescence, suggesting that the critical period for the functional shift from processing visual stimuli to tactile ones in visual cortex does not extend to adulthood. Yet, in real life situations, particularly those involving late-onset blind subjects can learn to use sound cues (Voss, 2004).

Understanding Blindness and the Brain (Brian Wandell, Stanford University)
Describing Colors To Blind People


Miller, G (2014) What Happens in the Brain When Blind People Learn to See With Sound. Wired. Retrieved from

ScienceDaily (2009) Blindness causes structural brain changes, implying brain can re-organize itself to adapt. Retrieved from

Voss. P (2004). Current Biology. Early- and Late-Onset Blind Individuals Show Supra-Normal Auditory Abilities in Far-Space Retrieved from