Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Blindness’ may rapidly enhance other senses

Date:
May 8, 2012
Source:
Acoustical Society of America (ASA)
Summary:
Not only is there a real connection between vision and other senses, but that connection is important to better understand the underlying mechanisms that can quickly trigger sensory changes, according to new research.

Can blindness or other forms of visual deprivation really enhance our other senses such as hearing or touch? While this theory is widely regarded as being true, there are still many questions about the science behind it.

New findings from a Canadian research team investigating this link suggest that not only is there a real connection between vision and other senses, but that connection is important to better understand the underlying mechanisms that can quickly trigger sensory changes. This may demystify the true potential of human adaptation and, ultimately, help develop innovative and effective methods for rehabilitation following sensory loss or injury.

Franηois Champoux, director of the University of Montreal's Laboratory of Auditory Neuroscience Research, will present his team's research and findings at the Acoustics 2012 meeting in Hong Kong, May 13-18, a joint meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), Acoustical Society of China, Western Pacific Acoustics Conference, and the Hong Kong Institute of Acoustics.

Studies have shown, in terms of hearing, that blind people are better at localizing sound. One study even suggested that blindness might improve the ability to differentiate between sound frequencies. "The supposed enhanced tactile abilities have been studied at a greater degree and can be seen as early as days or even minutes following blindness," says Champoux. "This rapid change in auditory ability hasn't yet been clearly demonstrated."

Two big questions about blindness and enhanced abilities remain unanswered: Can blindness improve more complex auditory abilities and, if so, can these changes be triggered after only a few minutes of visual deprivation, similar to those seen with tactile abilities?

"When we speak or play a musical instrument, the sounds have specific harmonic relations. In other words, if we play a certain note on a piano, that note has many related 'layers.' However, we don't hear all of these layers because our brain simply associates them all together and we only hear the lowest one," Champoux explains.

It's through this complex computation based on specific components of the sound that the brain can interpret and distinguish auditory signals coming from different people or instruments. The ability to identify harmonicity -- the harmonic relation between sounds -- is one of the most powerful factors involved in interpreting our auditory surroundings.

"Harmonicity can easily be evaluated using a simple task in which similar harmonic layers are set up and one of them is gradually modified until the individual notices two layers instead of one," says Champoux. "In our study, healthy individuals completed such a task while blindfolded. This task was administered twice, separated by a 90-minute interval during which the participants conversed with the experimenter in a quiet room. Half of the participants kept the blindfold on during the interval period, depriving them of all visual input, while the other half removed their blindfolds."

They found no significant differences between the two groups in their ability to differentiate harmonicity prior to visual deprivation. However, the results of the testing session following visual deprivation revealed that visually deprived individuals performed significantly better than the group that took their blindfolds off.

"Regardless of the neural basis for such an enhancement, our results suggest that the potential for change in auditory perception is much greater than previously assumed," Champoux notes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Acoustical Society of America (ASA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Acoustical Society of America (ASA). "'Blindness’ may rapidly enhance other senses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120508152002.htm>.
Acoustical Society of America (ASA). (2012, May 8). 'Blindness’ may rapidly enhance other senses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120508152002.htm
Acoustical Society of America (ASA). "'Blindness’ may rapidly enhance other senses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120508152002.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) — New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins