Brain Structure of the Blind

Differences and Comparisons to Brain Structures

Brain Structures and Development

Being blind can affect the structure of the brain greatly. There are a number of similarities and differences with brain structure and development. Neuro imaging shows that the visual regions of the brain are smaller in volume in those who are blind, compared to ones who have sight (California, 2009). This is different when it comes to areas in the brain that are not visual. These areas are larger in those who are blind. This information tells us that blind individuals are compensating for the reduced volume in areas which are usually dedicated to vision (California, 2009). The brain compensates those who cannot see. This is especially true for those who have been blind since they were young because the developmental period which the brain is more plastic and modifiable (California, 2009).

There is extensive neuroanatomical differences, included in the occipital cortex, observed in those who were blind from an early age (Lepore, et al., 2009). It is found that the tonotopic region of the auditory cortex is twice the size in those who have sight (Lepore, et al., 2009). There is quite a bit of difference for those who have are early blind subjects. Some of the results show there are volume deficits in dorsal visual corticies and volumes are lower in occipital regions in both hemispheres, with more deficits in the left hemisphere (Lepore, et al., 2009). The cingulate region showed a great amount of volume reduction and the cingulate region showed great volume decrease (Lepore, et al., 2009). Some other areas decreased are the left supplementary motor area, medial, lateral, and premotor.

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The UCLA Department of Neurology confirmed that blindness causes structural changes within the brain and may reorganize itself in order to adapt to the loss of sensory (California, 2009).

Understanding Blindness and the Brain (Brian Wandell, Stanford University)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VVgfC_FV2hI

Shows some examples on how the brain works in those who are blind.
Vision and the Brain: Unseen Complexities Part 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qd9iKIuSvs

Explains a little more about vision and the struggles that can come along with the brain.
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This shows the regions of the brains in response to a device that converts images to complex sounds in both sighted and blind individuals (Miller, 2014).

References:

California, U. o. (2009, November 19). Blindness causes structural brain changes, implying brain can re-organize itself to adapt. Retrieved from Science Daily: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091118143259.htm

Lepore, N., Voss, P., Lepore, F., Chou, Y.-Y., Fortin, M., Gougoux, F., . . . Thompson, P. (2009). Brain Structure Changes Visualized in Early- and Late-Onset Blind Subjects. Neuroimage, 134-140.

Miller, G. (2014, March 6). What Happens in the Brain When Blind People Learn to See With Sound. Retrieved from Wired: http://www.wired.com/2014/03/blind-brain-sound/