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Study explores nuanced sense of hearing among congenitally blind

New research reports that those born blind or who lose their sight early in life have a more refined sense of hearing

24 Apr 2019 by Selina Powell

A new study by researchers in the US and UK has explored the neurological basis to a nuanced sense of hearing among those born blind or who lose their sight early in childhood.

The research, which was published in The Journal of Neuroscience, involved using functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare neural responses to sounds among sighted, blind and anophthalmic study participants.

The scientists found that blind study participants had narrower neural tuning and could detect smaller differences in sound frequency than sighted study participants.

University of Washington professor, Ione Fine, highlighted that the study explored how the auditory cortex functions in blind and sighted individuals.

This area of the brain receives similar information across both groups, Professor Fine said.

“But in blind individuals, more information needs to be extracted from sound – and this region seems to develop enhanced capacities as a result,” she elaborated.

Scientists from the University of Oxford also contributed to the research.

Image credit: Public Domain Pictures

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