Brain Development and Blindness

Brain changes between the blind and those who can see

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There are similarities when looking at the brain scans that show the same area's receiving information on those who can see verse those who are blind.

Structural difference in the brain in blind patients

Scientists have proven that when one of the areas of the brain is not functioning correctly, the other parts compensate for what that part is lacking (University, 2009). When an individual cannot see their visual regions (the occipital lobe) is smaller than that of a brain without visual issues. The visual regions are not as large as others who have full sight, however those who are blind make up for it in different areas of the brain. The brain is extremely flexible and is able to come back from early blind-ness and still have full recovery (Merabet, 2015). In the brain of someone who is not blind, all parts of the brain are perfect in size and do not try to compensate for a difference sense going down. When someone cannot see, the brain begins to compensate for that loss.

The brain has a great deal of neuroplasty which allows for the blind to be able to see again if other procedures are done (Merabet, 2015). While reading Braille, the individual is still using the visual cortex and expanding the plasticity in it. Even though the individual may be blind, the visual cortex still expands, just as someone who is not blind (Chatterjee, 2015).

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This picture shows an fMRI scan of the activity in the brain of a person just gaining sight for the first time verses someone who has always had sight. The right side is just beginning to recognize faces and yet have some of the same area's engaged as the normal visual cortex. This shows how the brain is able to adapt and change so easily (Chatterjee, 2015).
2013 APS Award Address: Helen J. Neville