People who are visually impaired really do have enhanced abilities in their other senses, according to a new study. The research used detailed brain scans to compare the brains of people who could see to the brains of people who couldn’t.
The scans showed that these individuals had heightened senses of hearing, smell and touch compared to the people in the other group for study.
Enhancements in other areas like memory and language abilities were also observed. Such brain changes arise because the brain has a "plastic" quality, meaning that it can make new connections among neurones, the study said.
In the study, the researchers performed brain scans on 12 people who were visually impaired and 16 people who were not. All of the individuals from the former category were "highly independent travellers, employed, college-educated and experienced Braille readers," the researchers noted.
Analysing the brain scans, the researchers found that there were "extensive morphological, structural and functional" differences in the brains of these people.
The study has been performed and published by the researchers of Laboratory for Visual Neuroplasticity at Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts.