Blind people seeing…

Advertisements
Photo by Steve Johnson from Pexels

Researchers presented 20 blind and 20 sighted adults with animal names and asked participants to: order animals by size and height; sort animals into groups based on shape, skin texture and color; pick which animal out of a group is unlike the others in shape, and choose from various texture options (“Does a hippo have feathers, fur, skin or scales?”).

Overall, blind and sighted participants organized animals in similar ways and agreed on which physical features were most likely to be observed within animal groups. Contrary to the idea that blind people learn about animal appearance from sighted people’s descriptions of what animals look like, blind and sighted participants disagreed most about the dimension that was easiest for sighted people to describe in words: animal color. Sighted participants created groups for white, pink, black, black and white, brown and grey animals, and they easily labeled these groups, but had a hard time verbally describing their shape groupings. Blind people created similar shape groups to the sighted but did not make consistent color groups.

The researchers found that to deduce what animals looked like, blind people relied on similar biological classifications, but such inference works less well for color because many very different animals are white (e.g., swans, polar bears and sheep).

The main conclusion is that blind people develop rich and accurate ideas about appearance based on inference. ”What the findings show is that linguistic communication can give us rich and accurate knowledge, even knowledge that at first glance seems ‘visual.'” says Marina Bedny, Assistant Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins and another author on the paper. (1)

What you think is what you see.

What you hear is what you think.

The same way that what you see is what you think.

Look too much at the cosmos and you will stop listening.

Listen carefully and you will stop seeing.

There is balance is the cosmos.

And this balance can only be sensed by those who have no balance.

There is chaos in the world.

And this chaos can only be seen by those who see no order anywhere.

On the edges of existence, people standing still.

In the center of being, blind people dancing…

White bears.

White swans.

White snow.

Don’t you see? Everything is black!

Listen. So that you touch…

Advertisements
Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Our eyes, ears and skin are responsible for different senses. Moreover, our brain assigns these senses to different regions: the visual cortex, auditory cortex and somatosensory cortex. However, it is clear that there are anatomical connections between these different cortices such that brain activation to one sense can influence brain activation to another. A study by the laboratory of Associate Professor Shoji Komai at the Nara Institute of Science and Technology (NAIST), Japan, seen in PLOS ONE, explains how auditory stimulation of the barrel cortex influences responses to tactile stimulation in mice and rats. Komai considered the barrel cortex a good model to see how sound can affect the perception of touch.

“We think our senses are distinct, but there are many studies that show multisensory responses, mainly through audio-visual interactions or audio-tactile interactions,” explains Komai.

His group found that mouse and rat neurons in the barrel cortex were unresponsive to light, but that a strong majority responded to sound. These neurons showed electrical responses to sound that could be categorized as regular spiking or fast spiking. Further, the barrel cortex appeared to treat tactile and auditory stimuli separately. “These responses indicate that tactile and auditory information is processed in parallel in the barrel cortex,” says Komai.

Additional analysis showed that the electrophysiological properties of the responses were different, with sound causing longer postsynaptic potentials with long latency, almost priming the animal to sense touch. This would be like the shuddering one does when hearing a loud boom. According to Komai, this reaction would be an evolutionary advantage for nocturnal animals such as rats and mice.

“In a nocturnal environment, sound may act as an alarm to detect prey or predators. The combination of auditory and tactile cues may yield an effective response. It will be interesting to learn how the same system is advantageous in humans,” he says. (1)

Listening. Tasting. Seeing. Touching. Smelling.

Distinct senses and yet so interconnected.

Interlinked.

But don’t be too dazzled by the light.

It usually hides the deepest shadows.

Senses do not let us sense the world as it is.

They help us break that world apart.

Every path in the dark forest of perception is connected with the others. And there is no way to tread one of them without crossing the others. The more you walk, the deeper you enter the forest. The more you walk, the more everything seems more familiar. The deeper you enter the forest, the more difficult to see the forest.

Tracing back your steps.

At the time when you started walking.

Remember…

As you entered that first path…

Well before the path had a name…

Did you see any paths?

Listen…

Touching. Something you can never do…

Advertisements
Photo by Spiros Kakos from Pexels

Touching.

The most essential of the senses.

We touch to see.

We touch to feel.

We touch to know.

We touch to love.

And yet…

What do we touch but mere boundaries?

Limits of things, the touch of which tells us nothing.

That table.

It is more than its outer boundaries.

It is a place to eat. A place to place your diary. A place to study and a place to write your inner thoughts.

That chair.

It is a thing to sit on. To ponder. To think. To not think…

That hand…

Touch it.

Does it tell you anything for the person?

Does touching speak to you of essence?

Petty man.

Always looking into the horizon for answers.

Always looking away for the key to the cosmos.

And yet…

All you had to do was to touch your self.

Without touching anything…

Phantom odours… Phantom axioms…

Advertisements

A study finds that one in 15 Americans (or 6.5 percent) over the age of 40 experiences phantom odors. The study is the first in the US to use nationally representative data to examine the prevalence of and risk factors for phantom odor perception. The study could inform future research aiming to unlock the mysteries of phantom odors. (1)

Subjectivity. The essence of senses.

And no matter how evidence amass against their objectivity, we always judge the senses of others as wrong, based on our perception of our senses being correct. It is so amazing that words are no longer adequate to describe it.

Based on sand we build castles.

And when we see the castle built by the one next to us we cheer.

Let us be kids again.

Building castles on sand.

Only to laugh watching them be destroyed by the sea…

Sensing… Not sensing… Being…

Advertisements
Photo by Rohan Shahi from Pexels

Engineers have created an electronic ‘skin’ in an effort to restore a real sense of touch for amputees using prosthetics. (1)

We have senses.

We lose senses.

We improve senses.

We regain senses.

And at no point do we ever stop to wander.

That what can so easily change.

Cannot truly exist after all…

In the blistering Sun.

Or in the deep-freezing cold.

In the raging winds of a storm.

Or in the peace of noon siesta.

The abyss stands still.

A beggar seeks help…

Give him a hand.

He is you.