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Sense Of Touch Better In Blind, Study Suggests

Tue., Sept. 16, 1997, midnight

Tantalizing clues have suggested that the remaining senses of blind people may be sharper, perhaps because they use the parts of the brain that normally would be dedicated to vision. Now, new research has produced strong evidence supporting that suggestion, at least for the sense of touch.

Leonardo G. Cohen of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and colleagues studied five people who had been blind since birth or a very young age and five sighted people. The researchers intermittently disrupted the part of the brain normally used for vision.

The disruption affected the blind subjects, who reported confusion and even feeling “phantom dots” that weren’t there. There was no apparent effect on the sighted subjects.

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