Adaptions and Blindness

Expectations and adaptations to the world of non-sight.

How one afflicted with blindness adjusts to the world without the benefit of sight.

One afflicted with blindness, whether born without the ability of sight or loss of sight due to accident of illness, adjusts to one's environment due to plasticity of the brain. Research shows that the brain is able to adapt, and in fact, change to aid one for optimal functionality in life.

Imaging shows that in the non-sighted, visual centers in the brain are smaller than in sighted individuals, yet other sensory ares in the brain will be larger. It is as if the brain will compensate for what is not there. As a result, auditory and tactile sensory is enhanced and the skill of echolocation can be used in navigation.

In the case of blindness, the areas typically used for sight in sighted individuals such as the occipital cortex, also functions to aid non-sighted individuals. For example, those who read and interpret braille, brain activity has been observed via imaging techniques showing the use of typical visual processes in the non-sighted. As such, the visual cortex has been shown to function as both a visual and language processor.

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Burton, H., Snyder, A. Z., Conturo, T. E., Akbudak, E., Ollinger, J. M., & Raichle, M. E. (2002). Adaptive Changes in Early and Late Blind: A fMRI Study of Braille Reading. Journal of Neurophysiology, 87(1), 589–607.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2011, March 1). Parts of brain can switch functions: In people born blind, brain regions that usually process vision can tackle language. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 16, 2016 from

Merluzzi, A. (2013). Brain Development and Neuroplasticity: Environmental Influences can Shape Neural Circuitry. Association for psychological science. Retrieved March 16, 2016 from

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University of California - Los Angeles. (2009, November 19). Blindness causes structural brain changes, implying brain can re-organize itself to adapt. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 15, 2016 from