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Deaf people can see better?
If a sensory organ fails, the brain apparently uses unused areas in the brain to sharpen functioning sensory organs. A study from Canada has shown that cats can see better when they are born deaf.
Unused areas of the brain are used for other sensory organs.
It is no longer a secret that deaf people can often see better. In an experimental setup, scientists from Canada investigated how the brain uses unused brain areas when a sensory organ has failed. To this end, researchers at the Canadian University of Western Ontario examined cats that were already born without hearing. Compared to other peers, the deaf cats could see much better. During the study, for example, the animals were able to perceive objects at the edge of their field of vision much better and were also more sensitive to movements. The researchers were able to demonstrate that the unused brain areas of the hearing center also take on the visual tasks.
Pigeons can apparently recognize objects at the top of the field of vision better
The researchers described their results in the journal "Nature Neuroscience". Areas of the hearing cortex that normally register the ambient noise have now been used to perceive the objects at the edge of the field of vision. For this reason, the cats could not hear an approaching car when changing the side of the road, but they could see it all the better. "The brain is very efficient and doesn't waste unused space," said study leader Stephen Lomber. "It compensates for the lost meaning with useful improvements." Now the researchers suspect that the functionality of the area remains the same, but the sensory modality changes.
It is very likely that these findings can also be applied to humans. In a further study, the scientists want to clarify whether the brain behaves similarly, for example if you suddenly become deaf due to an accident. The following focus focuses on how the brain reacts to hearing aids. The results could be used, for example, to improve the functionality of hearing aids. The entire article was published in the science magazine “Nature Neuroscience”. (sb, 10/17/2010)
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