Visually Impaired

How the Brain Works

How blindness affects the structure of the developing brain

UCLA's Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, and colleagues found that 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 (University of California, 2009).


The central portion of the eyes projects to both eyes and the retina is next to the nose. The temporal retinal ganglion cells are next to the temples, which send axons to the brain. Each eye sends information to the other side of the brain (Breedlove & Watson, 2013, p. 299).

Brain development of a normal individual to a blind individual

Reduced amount of myelination causes blindness. Myelin is the fatty sheaf that surrounds nerves and allows for fast communication. The structure of the corpus callosum may not be strongly influenced by the loss of visual input. Frontal lobes, are involved with memory, if found abnormally enlarged, perhaps offering an anatomical foundation for some of blind individuals' enhanced skills (University of California - Los Angeles, 2009).


All fields of the brain and eyes work in a normal individual. Visually impaired people do not receive information from the eye to the cortex. People with vision can see color, position, distance, and can observe what to do in life. Visually impaired/blind have to learn by touch and smell, and being told; rather than observation.

Differences with blindness

The brain changes its structure and function) are now focusing on the brains of blind people. The area of the brain normally functioning as the visual cortex in sighted people seems active during touch-based reading, which is something that does not occur in those with vision (Vaughanbel00, 2007).


People can adapt to life with their visual system. The visually impaired have to adapt to life with using sense of touch and hearing along with other senses rather than their eye sight. They also have to learn to read with their fingers. Receptors work differently, the entire system works differently. Neural signals do not travel to the retina like they do for people who have vision. The brain has "off-center bipolar cells and off-center ganglion cells, instead of "on" (Breedlove & Watson, 2013, p. 303). If you cannot see people's facial expressions, it is very difficult to understand what someone is saying. Visually impaired have to touch faces or assume what one feels like. It would be very overwhelming and difficult to be visually impaired, especially if you were not born that way and all of a sudden had to develop ways of learning Brail an how to identify objects.

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"Blindness is strictly defined as the state of being totally sightless in both eyes. A completely blind individual is unable to see at all. The word blindness, however, is commonly used as a relative term to signify visual impairment" (MedicineNet.inc, 2015).
Brain Anatomy and Functions

Reference

Breedlove, M. S., & Watson, N. V. (2013). Biological psychology: An introduction to behavioral, cognitive, and clinical neuroscience (7th ed.). Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, Inc.

Images. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2015, from www.google.com


MedicineNet Inc. (2015, February 25). Blindness. Retrieved December 2, 2015, from http://www.medicinenet.com/blindness/article.htm


Odie, T. (2009, December 23). Visual Impairments. . Retrieved from http://www.education.com/reference/article/visual-impairments1/


University of California - Los Angeles. (2009, November 19). Blindness causes structural brain changes, implying brain can re-organize itself to adapt. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091118143259.htm


Vaughanbel. (2007, April 12). The unique construction of the blind brain. Retrieved December 1, 2015, from http://mindhacks.com/2007/04/12/the-unique-construction-of-the-blind-brain/