Most people know that a heightened sense of hearing often accompanies blindness. However, the mechanisms behind the aural phenomena are less understood. A new study explains why blind people can hear better than sighted men and women.
Neuroscientist Ione Fine from the University of Washington and colleagues explored the correlation between early onset blindness and precise hearing. Through the use of functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) imaging to examine the brain activity of participants listening to different frequencies. The analysis showed that blind people process tones in a “narrower, more accurate bandwidth” than sighted participants. Researcher Kelly Chang states that "Our study shows that the brains of blind individuals are better able to represent frequencies." She adds:
"For a sighted person, having an accurate representation of sound isn't as important because they have sight to help them recognize objects, while blind individuals only have auditory information. This gives us an idea of what changes in the brain explain why blind people are better at picking out and identifying sounds in the environment."
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“New Brain Study Finally Explains Why Blind People's Hearing Works So Precisely”