Brain of a visually impaired person reorganises itself
Last Updated: Friday, November 20, 2009, 00:00

Washington: Supporting the popular adage
that those who are visually challenged are compensated with
other extraordinary senses, American scientists have claimed
that a visually impaired persons` brain reorganises itself
functionally in order to adapt to a loss in sensory input.

Researchers at the UCLA Department of Neurology, Los
Angeles, have said that blindness causes structural changes in
the brain, indicating that the brain may reorganise itself
functionally in order to adapt to a loss in sensory input,
journal NeuroImage reported.

They said that visual regions of the brain were smaller
in volume in blind individuals than in sighted ones, however,
for non-visual areas, the trend was reversed -- they grew
larger in the blind.

This, the researchers say, suggests that the brains of
blind individuals are compensating for the reduced volume in
areas normally devoted to vision.

"This study shows the exceptional plasticity of the
brain and its ability to reorganize itself after a major input
-- in this case, vision -- is lost," said lead author Natasha

She added, "In other words, it appears the brain will
attempt to compensate for the fact that a person can no longer
see, and this is particularly true for those who are blind
since early infancy, a developmental period in which the brain
is much more plastic and modifiable than it is in adulthood."

Researchers used an extremely sensitive type of brain
imaging called tensor-based morphometry, which can detect very
subtle changes in brain volume, to examine the brains of three
different groups.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, November 20, 2009, 00:00

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