How the Blind Can Learn to "See"

Blind people are being taught to "see" the world just as bats and dolphins do. By training their ear, they can use sound to map different objects and respond effectively to their surroundings. 

What's the Latest Development?


Blind people have always used sound to navigate the world, but now the visually-impaired are learning to finely tune their ear to a degree never before possible. By making small clicks with their tongue, the blind are learning to "see" the world just as bats and dolphins use sound to map objects in their surrounding environment. "It may sound like science fiction but those who are best at echo-location are so proficient that they can ride skateboards or bikes through busy streets despite being entirely blind."

What's the Big Idea?

Echo-location works by reprogramming the very way the brain thinks, which neuroscientists call neuro-plasticity. It is no small task. "Professor Gordon Dutton, a British ophthalmologist and leading expert on cerebral visual impairments, has become a supporter of echo-location, but says that those who wish to use it must work hard: 'Mastering echo-location takes years of work, you need to put in something like 10,000 man hours... You have to put huge amounts of work in and entirely reprogramme the way your brain thinks.'"

Related Articles
Playlists
Keep reading Show less

Five foods that increase your psychological well-being

These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.

Mind & Brain

We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.

Keep reading Show less

For the 99%, the lines are getting blurry

Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.

What is the middle class now, anyway? (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.

Keep reading Show less