Deaf cats reveal secrets of super vision

Deaf people often report enhanced abilities in their remaining senses, but up until now no one has explained how this occurs. Now, researchers at The University of Western Ontario have discovered there is a causal link between enhanced visual abilities and reorganization of the part of the brain that usually handles auditory input in congenitally deaf cats. Published in Nature Neuroscience, the findings reveal the astonishing power of the brain to re-task its components.

Cats are the only animal besides humans that can be born deaf. Using congenitally deaf cats and hearing cats, researcher Stephen Lomber and his team showed that only two specific visual abilities are enhanced in the deaf: visual localization in the peripheral field and visual motion detection. They found the part of the auditory cortex that would normally pick up peripheral sound enhanced peripheral vision, leading the researchers to conclude the function stays the same but switches from auditory to visual.

“The brain is very efficient, and doesn’t let unused space go to waste,” says Lomber. “The brain wants to compensate for the lost sense with enhancements that are beneficial. For example, if you’re deaf, you would benefit by seeing a car coming far off in your peripheral vision, because you can’t hear that car approaching from the side; the same with being able to more accurately detect how fast something is moving.”

Lomber and his team are trying to discover how a deaf brain differs from a hearing brain to better understand how the brain handles cochlear implants. If the brain has rewired itself to compensate for the loss of hearing, what happens when hearing is restored? “The analogy I use is, if you weren’t using your cottage and lent it to a friend. That friend gets comfortable, maybe rearranges the furniture, and settles in. They may not want to leave just because you’ve come back,” explains Lomber.

He also plans to conduct research to see if these changes in the brain also happen to those who could hear at one time, or if auditory experience prevents the changes from occurring.

Related:
Did Trichromatic Vision Evolve Because of Colorful Bottoms Or Colorful Fruit?
Tongue-Vision Allows The Blind To Lap-Up The Sights
Constant Activity Of Visual Cortex Surprises Scientists
Eye Of The Beholder Redux

Source: University of Western Ontario

, ,

Comments are closed.

14in x 8in Driver Is Deaf Sticker Car Truck Vehicle Bumper Decal picture

14in x 8in Driver Is Deaf Sticker Car Truck Vehicle Bumper Decal

$19.99



14in x 8in Driver Is Deaf Magnet Car Truck Vehicle Magnetic Sign picture

14in x 8in Driver Is Deaf Magnet Car Truck Vehicle Magnetic Sign

$26.99



5in x 3in Driver Is Deaf Magnet picture

5in x 3in Driver Is Deaf Magnet

$9.99



3.5in x 2in Driver Is Deaf Sticker Car Truck Vehicle Bumper Decal picture

3.5in x 2in Driver Is Deaf Sticker Car Truck Vehicle Bumper Decal

$6.99



Wisconsin School for Deaf Delavan Wisconsin 1910c postcard picture

Wisconsin School for Deaf Delavan Wisconsin 1910c postcard

$7.50



State School for Deaf Delavan Lake Wisconsin linen postcard picture

State School for Deaf Delavan Lake Wisconsin linen postcard

$6.50



Amazon Deaf Awareness Peccy Pin picture

Amazon Deaf Awareness Peccy Pin

$12.00



GPK Flashback Series 2 Pick a card, FB2 picture

GPK Flashback Series 2 Pick a card, FB2

$1.25



5in x 3in Driver Is Deaf Vinyl Sticker picture

5in x 3in Driver Is Deaf Vinyl Sticker

$6.99



3.5in x 2in Driver Is Deaf Magnet Car Truck Vehicle Magnetic Sign picture

3.5in x 2in Driver Is Deaf Magnet Car Truck Vehicle Magnetic Sign

$9.99



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes